Loving is Caring

Loving and caring for others is in my DNA! I like to say I was born in a church. I was actually born in a hospital but lived in a small apartment at the church my first two years of life. My parents were caretakers (janitors) of the church and the whole church became my family. People took care of each other and celebrated together. I remember seeing a picture of my first birthday. I was sitting in a high chair at the head of a long table surrounded by family and church members. I was loved and cared for.

My grandparents were always taking care of people and letting them come and live with them if they needed help. You never knew who would be at their table. They came through the depression and understood the importance of being there for others when a helping hand was needed.

My parents were caregivers to 99 babies while I was growing up. They would come to our home directly from the hospital and stay until they went out for adoption. We always had one to three babies in our home. There was one baby who stayed. Matt was born with half a brain. The doctors said he would never sit, or walk or talk and that he should be put in an institution. My mother believed he could be helped. They worked with him and did everything possible to support and love him. As a permanent foster child, his medical bills were handled by the state so he could live with our family without the tremendous financial burden. In later life, my parents were finally able to adopt him. Loving is caring! At 52 years of age, Matt is a medical miracle.

My mom has always taken care of everything. Everyone would come to her for guidance and support. If there was an extended family gathering, it was usually at my parents’ home. On holidays, my mom always invited those who had no place to go. Just like those early days in the church, my parents always supported and celebrated with others.

My dad is 92 years old and my mom is 90 years old. Last year, they could no longer care for themselves and they moved into assisted living. My sister, brother and I are now the caregivers and caretakers. It happened very quickly. It seemed like one day my dad was still driving and my mom was still working. Within a short period of time, it all changed. They realized it was time and made the choice to go to assisted living. They believe they are in the best place for this time in their life.

We became caretakers of their home as we had to empty and sell it. Their large two story home was filled with 49 years of living and loving. It was emotional and physically demanding to go through everything. They took a few things to their small assisted living apartment but we had to make decisions for the rest. During this time, I could feel them become detached and let us handle everything. It was beautiful to watch as children and grandchildren took what was important to them and respected each other in the process.

As a caregiver for my parents, my life has changed a lot. I feel like I am on call 24/7 and my phone is always with me. I’m so lucky to have a sister and brother to share the responsibility. We grew up with loving parents who cared and now we get to give back. Loving is caring!