Let’s start with a cliché: we are all born as a blank slate; a tabla rasa on whose emptiness, a world of virtually unlimited possibility vies for a kernel of space. There is not an experience, a thought, a relationship, a conversation or an encounter with an individual, that does not carry the potent responsibility, either to encumber, or to emancipate. The story of our lives are given to us, with every word, phrase and chapter to craft into a work of genius or a dime store novel.
Life prepares us for life. The crucible in which we compost our experience to create a personality is perhaps the only real free choice we have. What will we do with the circumstances that place themselves before us?
In the myriad of experiences that have shaped and defined me, none has burned hotter and more intensely than being the caregiver to Linda, who, at 57, finally succumbed to the brutal, smothering disease that is Early Onset Alzheimer’s. From its early opening salvo, to the slow, disgustingly painful way in which it stole her from us, one memory at a time, until it finally extinguished her flame entirely in 2017, it was a never ending fusillade of provocations that begged the questions, “how do I handle, this?” “Who am I going to become as a result of what I am going through?” “How can I get through this as a better version of myself?”
Caregiving is many things; it is a pact we make with life to ensure the safety and comfort of those we love in times of need. It is time of ultimate sacrifice, when the dreams, hopes and desires we cultivated over years get put on hold or abandoned. It was, in my case a vow to love, honor and cherish your spouse in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. And still, it is also a choice. Hidden within the corners of an obligation of this size, are the whispers that beckon us forward to a more noble journey, where our humanity awaits its unfoldment. Those attributes of courage, compassion, empathy, patience, resilience, humor, self-love, respect, gratitude, and many others. Caregiving at its essence is, or at least can be, a ministry of love, where we discover the depth of our humanity and the height of our ability. All of which nurtures the wisdom from which growth and healing spring forth, like the tender dandelion shoots finding their way through the cracks of a well trampled sidewalk.
We are those fragile dandelion shoots aiming towards the sun, single minded in our resolve to emerge from our experience stronger and wiser for it. All the while, developing the perspective and strategies that will allow us to be better caregivers to those we love. Caregiving is a transformative experience from which we can craft a story of our life that is no less than Shakespearean in its epic scope and impact.
And to think, it all begins with choice.
Yours in Life and Health,
About The Author
I have been a chiropractor since 1981 in Ridgefield, Connecticut. My passion is caring for my patients, educating people on the principles of health, reading, writing, going to the movies, and traveling, on my Harley whenever possible.