To Caregivers: The Journey Matters

The JourneyNow that Republicans control both houses of Congress, there is newfound effort to craft legislation rolling back part or all of the Affordable Care Act. Obviously President Obama would veto any legislation that eliminates the whole program or threatens essential elements, such as the individual mandate requiring everybody to have health insurance. Still, Congress and the White House will probably play out the whole repeal drama anyway, no matter how scripted.

During the past six months, I’ve come to understand the greater untouched healthcare battle. The biggest costs to health and soul are lost in intimate moments, as loved ones care for aging parents, a disabled child or dying friend. Society rarely assesses impacts of social care from either the receiver or provider point of view. So while economic spillovers of healthcare benefits make a noteworthy newsbyte, neither private insurance nor public coverage through entitlement programs will meet the demand for care.

I am not unlike others, working by day, becoming healthcare provider by night. In reality, I care for two: my father and my ex-wife. My father has end of life dementia and my ex-wife has early Alzheimer’s. And while congressional leadership discuss gutting the Affordable Care Act, few, if any converse upon the daily efforts provided by millions. We’re neither cherished, honored nor recognized as financial burdens of caring mount.

It is we – the we that live and die in every moment – in the silent echoes of our mind, hoping for peace, hoping for relief, hoping for both.

Each of those whom I care had faith experiences. My father’s near death experience occurred in 2000. And until a few years ago, he claimed hving repeated Angelic visitors. My ex-wife claimed God spoke to her at an early age. In each case, personal communiqué with God propelled life, ethics and love.

As I lay my father’s aging hands under the sheets for another night, I reminisce when those hands possessed great strength. They lovingly provided for a family of four. Funny how the very hands that could craft wood now produces such great discomfort. And while massaging my father’s body, I wonder now if his Angelic friends remain near, provide any comfort or wait patiently.

Other days, I watch my ex-wife eyes explore a wondrous fish tank filled with beautiful guppies. It’s magical. In these moments, she’s freedom, grace, beauty and wonder — not merely a concept of mind, but as an experience reverberating throughout body and soul. Does she relive a thousand adventures, encased by swashbuckling heroes? Does she leave the boundaries of this tangible world to fly in the heavens of possibility? Has God conversed and eased her burden?

In reality, I know both will end either hooked to tubes and machines in an ICU or in a skilled nursing facility. But we caregivers struggle so hard, as adults, to figure out the meaning of what to do, how to be happy ourselves, and what it is we’re supposed to be doing versus what we can do.

Congressional representatives will provide little. Then again, I never thought of the radar until I became the radar. No one does. As a Buddhist, maybe answers aren’t important. Perhaps serving as caregiver was never intended to unfold life’s ultimate secret. Still, somewhere in the moments with those loved, I’ve found something far more important, a deeper sense of life itself.

Just like you, I live a journey. Maybe the journey matters. Just maybe.



Categories: Life Lessons

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