noun NORTH AMERICAN
- a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.
The first part of the definition of a caregiver is the part that stands out to me – a family member or paid helper. When you hear that someone is the caregiver for someone that stage 4 lung cancer, you immediately think they are one of those two things. You don’t automatically assume that they are the EX-WIFE of the patient. But that was my mom, the caregiver of her dying EX-HUSBAND (my dad) who she had been divorced for almost 20 years. Take a minute to take that all in. My mother took care of her ex-husband for almost 2 years, in her home, until the day he died. They need to rewrite the definition of caregiver just for her.
So many people have called my mom a saint or an angel over the last two years, something she actually doesn’t like being called. To put it simply, she did what she thought was right given the situation. We both put our lives on hold for 2 years, but she put hers on hold completely so that mine didn’t have to stop. My life was put on hold, but I wouldn’t have been able to keep my job or any semblance of a life without her doing what she did. She isn’t a saint, she is a freaking rockstar.
Trying to tell you about how things went over the last two years would take… well, probably two years. Cancer is a MF’er, absolutely. There are so many things that they never tell you about cancer and how things are going to go. So many times we’d say “Well I wish someone had told me about that!” It isn’t a straight line from diagnosis to treatment to death. It was FAR FROM it. But my mom went above and beyond to make sure that we all got through it.
I won’t even begin to pretend that things were picture-perfect. Sure, they had their problems. And sometimes those problems blew up and landed in my lap, throwing everything out of whack. There we days when things got BAD. But when push came to shove, they made things work in their own strange way. MOM made things work.
She took care of him 100% – all day, every day. And that is NO easy task, even if he wasn’t dying of cancer. My dad could be a butthead when he wanted to be. But like my mom would say “He is OUR butthead.”
I wouldn’t even know where to start in thanking her for all she’s done over the last two years for my dad and me, and still continues to do. She is my rock. I never would have made it through this without her. Thanks to her, my dad was able to stay at home with her until the very end. Something he wanted so much.
But today, on Caregiver Appreciation Day, I want to say thank you to her. Thank you for being the amazing, caring, strong, and wonderful person that you are. Thank you for taking care of dad. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for being my best friend. I love you momma.