Saturday, September 26, 2009

Butts and Ashes

No, I am not a smoker although I have given it consideration during times of great stress. I was bemoaning to a friend one day that my life seemed to come down to two things, butts and ashes. Having somehow been elected the family caregiver for the last twenty plus years, I can assure you, I have seen a great deal of both. The funny thing is, I don't think I would have had it any other way. I have come to realize what an incredible gift it is to love and care for someone from end to end.
I never intended to be the butt wiper of so many relatives. I also never intended to make so many funeral arrangements or carry so many ashes home in the back of my car. But then, I never intended not to either. The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus says intention is something that one hopes or intends to accomplish. Now here is the absolutely amazing thing about my lack of intention to be a caregiver. Finding myself in this role has led me to more than I could have hoped for. Being a caregiver has also accomplished more in me than I would have ever imagined possible.
In the past, I have cared for my aunt, my mother, my mother-in-law, my uncle, an elderly neighbor, my sister and now my father. Of course, this does not include our seven children I raised or my grandchildren. No, this blog is about caring for the people you never intended to care for. The people who cared for you first really. It's an entirely different kind of gig for those of you who have never had the opportunity or privilege to do it.

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