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what did you do this week?


swilkinson

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My children ring me up and say: "What did you do this week?" I go through the week in my mind. Monday I did, Tuesday I did, Wednesday I did etc. Of course it differs from week to week but certain elements happen through the month, Sunday Church and on the second Sunday of the month Messy Church in the afternoon. Monday mostly home as I do need a full day of housework, some time gardening etc. Monday night I do the Blog Report, I know it only takes a few minutes to read it but it takes well over an hour to write it as I summarise the blogs I have read through the week. Tuesday morning I go to a Coffee Morning at the Meeting Place (a centre for people from nearby community housing) and it is either Craft or some form of pastoral care in the afternoon, two Tuesday nights a month I go to Lions dinners. On Wednesday morning 10am I join others on Strokenet for Caregiver Chat that time being of course Tuesday night 8pm for the people on the east coast of the USA.

 

I have done Strokenet Chat for over ten years now. I have had breaks in service like the overseas holidays, sometimes local holidays and a few days when for some reason or another I did not have access to the computer. I have seen a lot of people on Strokenet come and go, I have talked to a lot of caregivers and survivors as I did general chat for the first few years, then Caregiver Chat. I have had a couple of co-hosts, Sarah Rademacher who was Host Sarah and Sally Pepperman who was and still is Host Sally. I don't know how many different topics we have talked about, how many heart rendering stories we have heard, how many serious conversations we have had but I know we have laughed a lot too, and laughed and laughed. And used the sounds and the icons to illustrate our conversations. And drank imaginary tea and coffee and wine. And who doesn't love the sound of soda ice in summer?

 

Almost all of the work I do as a caring person is focused on someone who needs help, mostly not physical aid and sometimes emotional help and many times just a listening ear. We provide a listening ear in chat. And we have certainly chatted on a wide range of subjects over the years. Sally and I have a joke that whatever topic we start with we always finish up talking about food, that has applied for many years and Debbie, Julie, Sarah and many others will attest to that fact. A recipe for happiness there is not but there surely is among the chatters a recipe for everything else. And of course wise advice. No we are not medical experts although we have had nurses like Debbie cast a professional eye over some of our medical problems but as a lot of the problems are about dealing with the frustrations of being a caregiver we are certainly experts on that.

 

Thursday I like to be free but it is most often shopping, this week I did some pastoral care nursing home visits in the afternoon. Friday mornings now we do Coffee Morning in the church hall. Not many people so far but the ones who come do enjoy it and as an older person I like to support young Mums so enjoy them coming along. Saturday a variety of things happen including our Monthly Market at church on the fourth Saturday of the month (that's tomorrow) and then I am back to Sunday again. Each week holds a certain amount of enjoyment and a certain amount of frustration but that is life. It is all so different to my life as a busy caregiver to Ray and I do hark back to those days sometimes with a nostalgic longing to be there again but I need to move forward into an acceptance of the life I have now, the widow's life.

 

One of the sad things about being a pastoral care worker is the ending, some of my patients and residents in nursing homes die. With them dies the contact to the family I have heard so much about as often I am an unknown church worker to them. One of the main reasons I go to so many funerals is to say "goodbye" to the deceased, that person I have laughed and cried with, whose smile I loved, whose pain I hated and whose company I enjoyed. Often I never meet a member of the family until then. I just happened to visit one of my ladies on a Saturday and did get to meet her son but that is rare. Mostly the family are the children on faded photographs, the young married couples, the smiling faces behind grandchildren. Some I will never meet as the funerals are not held locally but where the important person who makes decisions in that family lives.

 

Mostly the request for a church visitor comes to the nursing home or to the church through a family member but no-one asks to meet the visitor or who she or he is. It is strange that I often am one of the main visitors to this Mum, Dad,Grandmother or Grandfather and yet their family will never know me. Some of the families I have been involved with more closely find it awkward afterwards if they meet me in the street. What to you say to the person who you have sworn eternal gratitude to for what they did for your parent? Yes, awkward situation indeed. I just want to ask if they are okay, if the aftermath of the funeral etc has affected them, if they are still together as a family fixing up the estate...but all of that is difficult in the early stages of grief to hear, so mostly I just say I hope they are coping okay? And they say yes they are and we smile and part company, which is a happier ending.

 

Why do I do it then? Because I feel a commitment to making someone's life better because in doing so mine is better too, I think I help others to help myself in a way. And I have always loved people. I use my talents and my training to be with people, to support them and to benefit them in some way. I look at the nursing home visiting, the home visits and the encounters I have in that light. It is part of what I do in my week, every week. It is hard to explain that to my children. It is hard to explain to anyone who has not been a part of a support group or a self-help group as they have no idea of the benefit of offloading their troubles to someone who has been in a similar situation. The people on this site do. Which is why I still have a blog here.

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Sue, I have to say you still have a wonderful life and your kids keep in touch since you lost Ray so you got family all the time and who knows you may get close to a church member or neighborhood fellow to have conversations with from time to time as a company keeper....

 

I told my wife when I'm gone I hope she meet a guy her age that they can have conversations and he not be looking for a home and has his own and perhaps have lost his wife lately and just need to talk from time to time.....

 

I know her son and his wife will insure his mom is taken care of and not let her get into the wrong company of a man........ Then her daughter and 11 year old grand daughter lives with us now and my wife sings in the choir and is on the praise dance team so she stays busy with the church which is a good thing for her in my opinion....

 

Then you are so busy right here at stroke net and in your church your time probably passes pretty fast every day.... Not having time to be too lonely or at home alone!!!!!

 

I still want to visit your country one more time before I die I loved it when I was there recovering from being wounded in Vietnam and that was my doctors home as he worked for the US Army medical corps... 

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Sue :

 

you write so honestly about your feelings, its no wonder I m blog junkie I learn so  much from all these blogs. I find blogging reading or writing very therapeutic for my soul. I find having this safe place to vent & encourage gives meaning to my life. Now I understand how when we are helping others we are helping ourselves in the process too. & you are demonstrating it that so beautifully.

 

Asha

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