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My caregiving story started when I was a senior in high school. My grandfather was living with Alzheimer's and my grandmother was living with Dementia. Luckily for them, they had 8 children and 25 grandchildren, many of whom were committed to making sure they lived in their home for the rest of their lives. They needed 24 hour care and by the time I was in college, I was on night shift two nights per week. At times it was difficult, because my grandfather did not want to sleep at night. I would sleep outside of their bedroom on the couch so I would wake if he woke up. He would sit on the edge of the bed stressed out because he did not know how to work the dangerous contraption in corner of the room and was afraid it would catch the house on fire. The "contraption" was a tv, and we would talk about it like we were looking at two completely different things. Sometimes I would get angry, because my grandmother was also suffering from cancer and needed her rest... and I would think, "this man is so selfish," even though deep down, I knew he didn't realize what he was doing. Even though this time was difficult for me, it was so meaningful in my life and left me with many great memories, as well. For example, when I used to leave their house at the end of "my shift" my grandfather would always tell me to ring him twice when I got home and he wouldn't pick up, but he would know it was me and that I was home safe. It never failed... every time... I would call... the phone would ring once... my grandfather would say, "hello." This always put a smile on my face. And my grandmother was just the sweetest women through it all. And even though it was sad that her memory was failing, I would still enjoy the long repeating conversations that we used to have :-) Because I was a caregiver, I spent many intimate moments with two of the most important people in my life and was privileged enough to be there at the end of both of their lives to say goodbye. The journey wasn't always easy, but I wouldn't change my decision to be caregiver for the world.

By jencaul1 on September 26, 2012 - 10:16 AM

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