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A word to the caregivers



You know those days when you sit and wonder what life is all about, why this is happening to you and yours and why not to someone else who of course is nasty, horrible and deserves the suffering? If you answer "no" then I know I have met a saint!!! because I think we all feel like this at some time. Well I am here to tell you that whatever you are experiencing is building you into a better, more compassionate and loving person. It is opening your eyes to the suffering in the world around you and giving you valuable insights into the human condition. I am telling you this because you may not be able to see it but I can see it from where I am looking now, four years after my caregiving days ended.


Yesterday afternoon I went to join the 34 other women at the Women's Weekend put on by our WAGS (Working Age Group for Stroke) committee the second weekend in November each year. I haven't been to the full weekend for a couple of years but still go to the Saturday night dinner. Each year I say I won't go and each year I let friends from that group talk me into it. They are all wonderful women. The group is a combination of women who are caregivers and women who are stroke survivors, When I first heard about it I was surprised that the two groups went to the same weekend but it is a great idea as the caregivers and survivors learn from each other.


My big lesson this time was that while I am now past my caregiving days I still have much to share with present day caregivers. I still have women coming to me and asking what I did about this or that problem when it arose. I still have stroke survivors asking if Ray went through this or that problem and how it was resolved. In other words I can still be useful to the group and to the individual members. For my own sake I confine it to the one afternoon and evening as I want to lose some of the angst that comes with daily care and concentrate on my new life now. I hope that is not being selfish but it is part of the new Sue.


The dinner and dance that follows is a major event for some of the participants, to say they go wild is an understatement. Our DJ for the evening is a very flamboyant man and with 36 ladies on the floor he is blown away by the waves of estrogen or that was his excuse anyway. I think his aim is for us to have the best possible time and as the wine flows the dancing gets wilder and wilder. i must say I can do a mean twist and my rendition of some of the more modern dancing is better because I do "Just Dance" as my exercise program and so know some of the words and some of the moves to the amazement of the younger women. And I am not going to tell you why I got the Dance Trophy award for being the "Poledancing Princess". What happens at "The Willows" stays at "The Willows".


I also encountered one of the other guests of the motel who was over from New Zealand because her step son is dying in the local hospital. She was sitting alone and as I stopped to have a conversation with her out poured her story. To add to her sadness she had just had an argument with her son and he had disappeared, probably to a nearby bar, so she was upset about that too. I think talking to a stranger like me helps, chances are we will never meet again and so she was able to vent to me about the whole situation without fear that I would pass it on to her family. The step son is in his early 60s, far too young for what is happening to him and as he has been her mainstay in her years since she became a widow the thought of losing him is devastating for her.


I have always taken heart from the thought that other people suffer much worse than I have. I know that is not how everyone sees life but it has helped me tremendously. I am just one of millions of women and men who have cared for a loved one. I am not special but I am unique, in the way I handle life, in my life philosophy and in the way I deal with stress, frustration and the whole caring process. On the other hand I have learned so much from others that has helped me in that journey. We can all reach out to others, if we are not too shy or too self-absorbed to do so. We can all share our experiences to help others to put their own life in perspective.


Today I did the little Sunday service I do each week, only five people there but in that intimate group it is okay to share some of this and so I did. I don't know how much people absorb of what I say but it doesn't matter, I say it anyway. If I can cause someone to look at the disabled, the disadvantaged and those who struggle with sympathy rather than contempt then that is enough to make me feel that I have played some small part in making another's life easier to live. Thanks to all of you who do the same.

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That is so true. I hear horrendous stories and feel that I am lucky. Yet, people look at me and see my life as hard. I am finally getting into the swing of things...in this retirement state.

We are a very compasstioate group of people.

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