August 31st, 2011 at 9:00 am
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When caregiving ends: what will you miss?

by Judy Kirkwood

I asked my sister today what she misses about caregiving our mother, who passed away in March 2011. Mixed in with the fun stuff were some of the tedious details. To steal the title of a new novel, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, caregivers often find themselves at the corner of bitter and sweet streets. Mindfulness can make the difference between which direction you choose to go each day (or many times a day).

Why not make your own list now, while you’re in the middle of the business of caregiving? You can compare or add to it after caregiving ends. What about caregiving your specific person makes you laugh; what makes you cry?

My sister’s “Missing Mom” list

  1. Dressing Her Up. It was a lot of work to get mom ready for Circle of Friends daycare, but both my sisters loved picking out and matching mom’s outfits with jewelry, dabbing on a little makeup, and making the best of mom’s hair. Mom in her raw morning state was a wild sight. But by the time she left, she was as put together as the Queen of England, with her own crown of silver hair.
  2. Companionship. “It was nice to have someone to watch TV with,” says sis. Mom was interested in the talent shows like Dancing With the Stars, and in HGTV’s househunting shows. Although she would sometimes get confused and think she herself was buying or selling the featured home, she was still sharp about what were assets and deficits in regard to a good deal.
  3. Cooking. I couldn’t believe my sister missed cooking for mom since we both tend to prize carry out restaurant food above the time, effort, and money that goes into home cooking. “Cooking for mom forced me to put fruits and vegetables on the table I would not ordinarily have eaten, says sis. “Knowing I had to feed her nutritious foods at a reasonable time gave a routine to mealtimes I don’t have without her.”
  4. Tuck-ins. Number one is missing tucking mom in at night. Getting someone who is mostly wheelchair bound ready for bed is an ordeal–taking off her clothes and putting on pajamas, washing the face and body, brushing and flossing teeth, making sure the sheets are clean and the bed is protected from nighttime accidents. But once in bed, mom would be so deliciously relaxed and genuinely grateful it was hard not to feel happy about accomplishing that transition every single night.

“I only wish I had started caregiving mom earlier,” says my sister.

Posted in Caregiving | 4 Comments »
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4 Comments to “When caregiving ends: what will you miss?”

  1. Judy

    Mom was kind of a saint, too, putting up with me and my younger sister being nutso sometimes. My older sister, however, was always steady as was mom.

  2. Tucking mom into bed was the best. We would sing before going to sleep and had some long hugs and kisses. I knew she was safe in bed and that she was very loved. I miss her terribly.

  3. Helen

    Your sister is a saint, Judy. How lucky your mom was to have all of you.

  4. Lila

    I’ll always loved giving my mom a manicure. The hands on contact made her so happy and we both loved the final product!

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