As a young caregiver, I often dwelled on caregiving’s negative aspects. No wild college parties, spring break vacations, or date nights. My young adult life revolved around caring for my grandmother. We were restricted to the confines of home. Family visited for holidays and special occasions. Observers volunteered unhelpful advice and insisted I should be grateful for my open availability. I cherished moments with my grandmother, but 24/7 seemed excessive. She and I were independent women from different generations. Each needed alone time to gather thoughts and reflect on current life struggles. Alone but together was my 19 year old caregiver mentality.
Our caregiving journey progressed; I matured and found new appreciation for my grandmother. She epitomized strong-will and independence. Strokes and congestive heart failure were debilitating, but never destroyed her youthful spirit. My admiration grew as I watched her battle and overcome painful illnesses. She was my hero, an inspiration who proved a strong will to live could conquer seemingly fatal obstacles. Her love for living was contagious and I’m glad I caught the bug. Independence was taught through encouragement. Self-doubt turned into confidence. She surfaced my forgotten inner-strengths.
Maturity brought faith related questions. Why do good people suffer? Why is life so unfair to kind and gentle individuals? I’m still searching for the answers. Caregiving revealed lost emotions and gave my life purpose. I easily empathized with all living things and shared concern for the welfare of others. There’s always some good in bad situations. Was I satisfied with my grandmother suffering from illness? No. However, this obstacle and life’s spontaneity determined my morality and mentality. Caregiving created an independent, mature adult devoted to the happiness and well-being of others. Responsibilities were no longer burdens and life was beautiful.
Caring for an ailing loved-one is stressful and mentally draining. Remember and reflect on the positive experiences. Realize your growth by documenting personal and emotional changes. Caregiving granted me new perspectives. Light exists at the end of seemingly endless tunnels. I’m patient, understanding, and sympathetic to the needs of others. My appreciation for humanity is ever growing. The elderly are no longer lonely, crotchety people loathing the sight of youth. They’re fascinating, charismatic, wise human beings surviving life. Aging is not a burden, but a blessing. The wisdom and love learned through aging is life’s greatest experience. I’ve newfound respect for the Greatest Generation. They provided us the world in which we live and freedom to love ourselves and others equally. My grandmother showed strength thought nonexistent. She’s my inspiration. Our 11 year journey established my character and integrity. Caregiving shaped my soul. Thank you for reading!