My mom died suddenly in 2004. Heartbroken and almost paralyzed at first, I stepped in to try to fill a un-refillable void. I had great empathy for my dad, my brothers, her parents, her grandchildren including my three daughters and even the neighborhood as all were greatly impacted by this sudden and extremely sad loss. But this blog is not about our tragic loss. My focus is on reminding readers that it is essential, although for most caregivers extremely difficult, yet absolutely necessary that we care for ourselves first. Like the flight attendant reminds us, secure your oxygen mask first, help others next.
My mom’s focus was always on others. She was caring for her mother who had suffered several strokes, but fairly rehabilitated and her father who, after being in a six month coma, was released home. Grandpa was unable to walk, bathe, feed himself or manage the myriad of medications prescribed. Grandma, could walk, but lacked the ability to think through and articulate clearly her thoughts. She could feed him, though the thought of her using the gas stove or administering his medicine was pretty scary.
At this point, my Dad had lost his job and my mom was working full-time as a paralegal. She had no health insurance. She was traveling between Orange County and San Diego many days a week. Having just started my first job in public service prior to her passing, I was unable to assist and fill in as much as I had in the past (at least two days a week). At age 64, my mom was working full-time without insurance and traveling two hours each day between work and caring for my grandparents. Though she rarely alluded to her health issues, I learned that she had a heart condition, had been prescribed nitroglycerin and her doctor had suggested a pacemaker. She must have felt it impossible with her responsibilities of her parents, family and no insurance to move forward with any medical assistance.
At some point in the future, I will expand on surrounding conditions. However for this blog, just know that my mother cared for and took care of others. In my opinion she left us early because she did not take the time to care for herself. This is not to fault my amazing mother, she loved her life and her family and lived with the resources that availed her. She lived a full and deep life in her 64 years. But she took on the responsibility of a village and died early because of it.
Forward to 2014, my father’s health is failing. He is out of financial resources, losing his house and unable to care for himself. He moves in. In future post I will begin to highlight potential obstacles as well as resources and guidance to help care for parents or loved ones. It is my sincere hope to help those caring for parents or others to restore and/or maintain life balance.
For today, I am grateful – Robin Restored.