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A Caregiverís Memories:
How to Deal with Moving On
By Patricia St. Clair
(Page 2 of 3)

In returning back to the sight in which I felt the piercing of an arrow in my heart, I hasten to add that Iíve not been exposed to many family gatherings since the passing of my mother. Obviously Iíve chosen to avoid them consciously, rather than submit to heart-tugging scenes which would not only ruin the occasion for me, but could possibly effect whoever else was in attendance. No one deserves to sacrifice a warm and fuzzy moment with a family member because of a woman who becomes slightly deranged due to a deep emotional loss in her own family.

Today, I made an exception. I chose to accompany my husband to this festive occasion during the holiday season, and was welcomed unconditionally by members of his very loving family. But as they say, nothing lasts forever. From my perch in my cocoon on the sofa, I observed a woman of my age - 50ish and very effervescent - walk behind her mother and gently lay a hand on her motherís shoulder. Such a minimal effort for such a huge statement. The daughter continued to speak to a small group of people who had gathered behind her motherís chair, but the hand remained on the shoulder. No words were exchanged between the two women, but then none had to be. And in a flash, I was taken back in time to the days when I would have made such a gesture to my mother. The last few years seemed to disappear as I actually felt my motherís presence in that warm, love-filled room.

Before much time passed, as I continued to observe mother and daughter, I witnessed the exact same thing occur between my hostess and her sister, both of whom are indeed over the 65-year old range. Although they live an hourís distance from one another, and although both have suffered life-altering illnesses within the past several years, they easily reach out to touch each other whenever they are in close proximity. Loving touches. Hands that reach. Silence is, as they say, golden. During these moments, actions speak volumes.

I retreated into my own thoughts at this point, no longer noticing those near me. Memories flooded my heart, and although I was thankful to be amid such a warm and spontaneously loving group of people, I knew I had to deal with ďmeĒ at that point. I had been a caregiver for my mother for much of my adult life, even as she remained in her own home and continued (on a limited basis due to multiple eye problems) to drive locally. Her last 6 months were spent as a resident in my home, however, and it was during that span of time that I learned what the meaning of ďcaregiverĒ truly was. I couldnít walk away if her inabilities irritated me. I couldnít slam the door and jump in the car if her forgetfulness got the best of my usually-patient nature. This was a 24/7 responsibility, and remained as such until she drew her last breath lying in my arms.

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