TO SUPPORT AND CELEBRATE FAMILY CAREGIVERS
by Barbara Gaughen-Muller
I usually write this column from my own experiences with my late husband, but recently I have been talking with caregivers who made the decision to move with their loved one into a retirement community with assisted living. The friends they make, the lives they touch inspired me to share their stories.
Mary lives in the room next door. A tiny lady, who speaks English and German. You know she is walking by when you hear humming and if Mary sees you she
says, “I love you and would like to give you a little kiss.”
Mary really doesn’t say much else and can respond but ends each sentence with a song, as she can’t recall what she was saying. It’s not easy! Not sure where
she is or why she is there. It’s her humming that fills the air.
Breakfast starts her day. Seeing others confused and unhappy not sure where they are, each listening to Mary’s song.
You hear the silverware clicking, the clock ticking and the kind words of those who help. They know the soul is present to feel their love and their encouragement.
My friend who made the decision to be there with her husband sees their questions, unspoken in their eyes.
The lovely ladies dine slowly, lingering over their time together. The men do seem to be in a hurry to go back to their rooms.
They are in their own world and at times there is a conflict when someone sees something another has and they are sure it belongs to them. Caregivers respond and settle it as best they can. Sometimes all they can do is hold their hand. The caregivers are tired. They know there is no time and space, just another day for these souls entrusted to their care.
My friend leaves for the day, knowing her decision to move here with her husband was the right one for her. Her husband is safe and cared for by another. Giving her the peace she so desired and needed when she was his only caretaker.
What to do when the time is long.
Mary continues to fill it with her song.
The soul hangs on, breathing and waiting.