March 2021: Give it up for the true heroes!

Leaning into Love

I have not hugged my Mom for over a year. During this time, I turned 60 and she turned 90. This March 27th (a day after her birthday and three days after mine), I am going to drive to Dallas and pick her up for a joint celebration and the first night of Passover. We have decided that we are going to be turning 60 and 90 again. Why not? 2020 is the forgotten year, so we’re going to forget we aged as well!

There are so many things I learned during this year about myself. First, I have asked myself: Where was I always going before Covid-19? I was so busy with appointments, meetings and constantly driving around. For a solid year, I did not go anywhere. Secondly, why do I need so many things? This past year I have cleaned out my drawers, closet, storage space, garage, laundry room, and organized my stuff. Lastly and most importantly I have decided that family first is my true mantra. Considering that this year we had a college senior graduate on our couch, a cancer diagnosis in our family, a son I have not seen in over 16 months, a wedding that went virtual and a lot of our family members out of work, I need to make this my priority. We have all been there for each other. Putting aside the noise, obligations and frivolity has really given a keen eye as to what is important.

One thing I know for certain is that the true heroes of this pandemic are the caregivers. I talk to countless exhausted spouses who are at home caring for their loved ones. I talk to children who have become the essential caregivers for their parents. And I talk to grandchildren who have been relegated to taking care of a sick Nana or Poppy so their parents can continue to work. I have organized thousands of hours of caregivers so they can stay safely in their homes, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care. I have cried with hospice nurses and been mystified by the selflessness of staff at senior living communities.

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

– Rosalyn Carter

But the two caregivers that I am going to give the biggest shout out to are Kareen Christopher and Emilian Odidi. These are my mother’s two caregivers. These women did not leave At Home Luxury Living, the personal care home, where my mom resides in Dallas, Texas for the entire last year. Think Golden Girls: my mother, Patricia Jane, the ornery and brutally honest Dorothy. Then there is Joan One and Joan Two with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, respectfully. Sadie, my favorite, was a singer in the Vienna Philharmonic and plays the piano for the group. Lastly, the two grand dames Josephine who is 99 and sits quietly on the edge of a sofa with all her jewelry on and Betty Lou who is turning 100 this year. Throughout this year of isolation, Kareen and Emilian have patiently taken care of these six women with compassion, respect and true love. We have no words to properly thank them for their service and dedication.

Please hug your caregiver as soon as everyone is vaccinated. They will appreciate it more than you can imagine. I cannot wait to do a group hug when I go to pick up Patricia Jane AKA Nana next week!

Are you suffering from caregiver burnout or need a support group?

Here are some resources in Houston, Texas.

  • List of Caregiver Support Group: here.
  • Join the Facebook Support Group called the Caregiving Daughter. Join here.
  • The Alzheimer Association offer support groups for those who have loved ones with cognitive deficiencies. For more info click here.
  • If you are worried about a senior or caregiver, contact the Ombudsman office. For more info click here.
  • LGBT community support group. For more info click here.
  • Servicing the Asian American Senior Support Group. For more info click here.

More To Explore