I make it a point to write only when I feel inspired. Otherwise, it feels like hard work and doesn’t represent my thoughts well. Surprise!! Today I am feeling randomly inspired. If you are reading this, it is a high chance you have been following my recent blog entries and know that my favorite guy (my Daddy) is fighting the battle of his life. We plan to win, but the road to recovery is hilly, unpredictable and scary! I am in Nashville (shout out to the peeps in Nashville; the city is cool!) to spend some time with him. There is an added bonus as I also get to do something else that is equally important.
My mom, his wife of 45 years, is his primary caregiver. I think I am the boss of my dad, but in reality, I am the back-up boss – The Mary Wilson to my mom’s Diana Ross! Only in this instance will I ever be okay with not being Diana! Our new normal has made us start developing a routine. We get to do things that we don’t normally do at home. We only live about 5 minutes apart, but day to day life doesn’t give us this kind of slowed down time together. We stay up late at night talking until one of us falls asleep (usually me) and we get up without an alarm to eat breakfast. She tells me stories of things that happened in my childhood (things I completely do not recall and I still think I need someone to corroborate some of this stuff…). I help her with her hair, run errands and pretty much do whatever she needs. Not just because she is my mom, but because what she is doing as the caretaker for my dad is unimaginable and she deserves a hero’s medal.
This morning, as we ate breakfast in a hotel filled with other individuals here for major medical transplant type of procedures from all over the country, I realized there was a theme. This same theme also is apparent every time I walk the halls of the Veteran’s Hospital – both in Atlanta and Nashville. There are a lot of men with serious health conditions that have women by their sides. Listen, these procedures are no walk in the park and require for the patient PLUS a caregiver to temporarily be uprooted from their homes, and deal with a LOT. I already believed that women are phenomenal and we go over and beyond to care for people. We are generally nurturers by nature (even though this looks different on different women) but this level of stepping up is incredible. In some instances the woman is not a spouse. It is a daughter, sister, or an estranged partner that is willing to help the patient get through this period. It is a girlfriend, a fiancé, or a lifelong friend. Whatever the case, it is a ton of women putting on their super hero capes to do what is truly hard to explain like I want to in this quick entry. Just know that it is remarkable.
I share this with you because:
1. I am ecstatic that I can be here with my mom and do things that bring some normalcy to her life.
2. I have a whole new level of respect for her. Seeing what she has to do, or chooses to do to help my dad is incredible.
3. You men out there that don’t have a strong reliable woman in your life better get one so when you need a SHE-ro, you will not have to look far! Your mom may not be around when you are almost 70 and can not do the things you need help with!
Cheers to all the women warriors fighting along side these men that would NOT be able to do what they need to do for their own health. It is amazing and it makes my heart smile in the midst of a really scary time.
Added Blog Bonus: Lastly, I promised in my last blog entry to share strategies for self-care when caretaking for an ill family member. Here are a few that have actually helped me so far:
1. Find quiet time doing something that slows your mind down. For me it is writing or finding a mindless show/movie on Netflix to watch.
2. Get some Vitamin D freshly delivered from the sun. I hate to be hot, but there is something soothing about allowing the sun to kiss your skin (for me that’s about 15 min max…. but it works for me) 😊.
3. Find ways to make self-maintenance easier and less complicated. Here I mean things like hair, nails, clothing, skin care, etc. For me, that meant getting braids in my hair so that is one less thing I have to worry about. Deciding I would be make-up free when traveling, but I would need a popping lip gloss or balm and extra glowy skin to compensate for removing the make-up regime. Side note: Clinique’s Vitamin A & Vitamin C serum and associated cream moisturizers are the bomb. This is what I actually did, for you just find ways to make things simpler to bring balance. It will likely not be my list, but you get the concept.
4. Be willing to be flexible and be ok with change. Sometimes you have plans that need to change. Change them. Be flexible and be ok with having to roll with a new strategy!
Be Well - MJ