“This series of short stories and the accompanying original art were created to document and share my journey as a dementia caregiver. If you are caring for a loved one who is challenged by Alzheimer’s or another dementia, may they resonate with you while seeking meaning in your caregiving work and a better, brighter and healthier future. If this is your first time stopping by, I recommend starting from the beginning with Story #1: A Few Things I’ve Learned.”
Stories from a Caregiver: Love, Resiliency, and Renewal
Story #4: A Caregiver’s Lament?
By: Gerald Lloyd Wood
In how many books can you remember the opening sentence? I vividly remember only two. One is Genesis 1:1 in the Holy Bible that says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The other is in a small book of big ideas by M. Scott Peck, M.D. called, The Road Less Traveled. It begins with “Life is difficult…” That simple statement struck me as profound the first time I read it. Fortunately, that didn’t apply in my case.
Life had always been good, going pretty much my way and according to plan until my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That changed everything for both of us. In fact, we were unprepared for how this dreaded disease would change our lives. Dreams of traveling, reading volumes of good books, enjoying our hobbies and the fruits of our labor became only pipe-dreams never to be realized. The biggest loss of all is spending quality time together in retirement after fifty years of marriage. After raising a family and working hard, we had looked forward to this time. We especially anticipated each other’s company on road trips where communication is close and rich as we talk incessantly and laugh at being captive audiences!
Truly, we have so much more to give when challenged.
Curiously, I’ve learned that being a full-time caregiver has made me a different person. Once I understood and accepted my new role, resentment waned and confidence grew. But, it took time. A positive attitude is so important when one faces such a test. Truly, we have so much more to give when challenged. Role reversal and devoting myself to the well-being and safety of my spouse has helped me more fully appreciate what she has unselfishly contributed to my success and happiness. At some point of awareness, it became abundantly clear that it wasn’t about me anymore.
A valuable lesson from this experience is that we are not as much in charge of our lives as we think. For me, facing this adversity when it came was a true test of my adaptability, fortitude, character and love.
© 2022 Gerald Lloyd Wood. All rights reserved. This story and accompanying art are used with permission of the author.
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Ready to Find Meaning and Hope?
Finding Meaning and Hope is a free program for family caregivers based on the book, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief by Dr. Pauline Boss. This which features videos with caregivers like Gerald and facilitator guided discussions.