TO SUPPORT AND CELEBRATE FAMILY CAREGIVERS
by Barbara Gaughen-Muller
“I can do that” was my motto during the years I was the caregiver for my late husband Robert Muller. It was a decision I made after visiting several elder care facilities. Returning home after each tour, I would think, “I can do that,” which meant taking care of Robert at home. Whatever he needed was my responsibility. With each request or necessity, I would think, “I can do that,” and I discovered I could do far more than I ever dreamt I could. I did what I could and what I couldn’t do, and I asked for help. It takes courage to ask for help, but as a caretaker, it is a must.
At a celebration of life for a friend’s husband, one of the women shared her story of how she was asked to help…. “At Church one Sunday we prayed for Graham, who had a severe fall on his last day in England. We were asked to send him cards. I didn’t know him well, but I figured “this is something I can do.” So I started sending notes to the hospital in England. When he returned home, a call went out again for visitors willing to spend an hour with him and perhaps write postcards. Again she thought, “this is something I can do.” I backed into all these things that helped him. “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. It’s up to me to do the one thing I can do.” I discovered untold experiences and emotions… What a blessing Graham was for me and my life.”
What a gift she gave to Graham, and she was so right. The sacred gift of care giving is not easy, yet the blessings are there to take with us to the end of our lives. In my case, Robert touched me, expanded me as a person and I became stronger. I did what I could and learned to ask for help when I needed it. It took courage to ask for help, especially the first few times. When someone came to visit, I would ask if they would sit with Robert so I could take a break or run to the store. They always helped when they could. What kept me strong were the breaks I took once or twice a week.
I did what I could and when I was exhausted or needed help, I would ask. It takes courage to ask for help, but as a caretaker it is a must.