Life is like a box of chocolates.
Today I had the opportunity to listen to an amazing woman speak about her time as a caregiver to both her husband and son. Her husband died eleven years ago of Alzheimer’s and her son after being a hemiplegic passed away five years ago. These tragedies have been seen as blessings in disguise as she described her experience as a caregiver. In reading her book I say the undeniable patience, compassion, and gratitude she has in her life. She always seemed to know exactly how to care for her husband although she compared herself to a duck who is really paddling like crazy underneath the surface of an unruffled appearance. She would not get offended by the things her husband would say to her because she was able to separate the person she once knew from his disease. She had such courage to face this crippling disease alone in her marriage and quite frequently people would not believe her that there was anything wrong with her husband. She had some much love for him that she was willing to care for him no matter what and would always put herself in his shoes, how she would want to be treated. She had courage to let him have some autonomy and to let others help her. She was giving of herself 24 hours a day at home but would still have loved to give for others in her service. She saw so many things as blessings in her life and frequently referred back to how they had a wonderful marriage for thirty-four years. She was always thankful for those small moments when he would come back to himself and tell her he loved her. How hard it must have been for her to continually be faced with this trial everyday and when they were still both so young. It was in this critical time that she had to prepare him, her and everyone else for the day when he would “graduate” from this life having accomplished his mission, which she really had to rely on her beliefs. Not only rely on them but really believe in them and know that there was hope beyond this existence. There are so many wonderful things I could say about this woman and her experience but if you want to experience it for yourself go and read her book! It is much like a published blog where she wrote her feelings and experiences of living with “Big Al” It is inspiring in many ways and has lots of uplifting quotes.
What touched me most about her experience was not in what she was saying but how I felt when she was there. She truly has compassion for each person, even strangers and knows the value of each person as a child of God. She played two songs at the end of her speaking to us while she went around and rubbed lotion on our hands. It reminded me of the Savior and how he went around washing the disciple’s feet. It was not only a sign of humility but compassion to reach out and really comfort someone with a simple human touch. I was crying before she even got to me but as she rubbed lotion on my hands I wanted to tell her how thankful I was for her in creating and sharing a wonderful experience with us. I could not utter a word but I think she could tell how I felt as looked me in the eyes and smiled without needing to say anything I could feel her love for me.
I am reminded by this experience to treasure and value what is really important in life, humanity. It is something that connects us all even though we may seem as strangers. We are all really seeking the healer’s touch that is so often found in each other. We can care and love for each other and we must! We need one another. There is so much good to be found in serving and allowing others to help us as well. I challenge all of us to reach out to someone today and every day. Call someone you care about that you have not spoken to in a while. Make amends for life is too short to waste time holding a grudge to be right when there could be so much peace.