A Force of Nature

When my father passed away at the age of sixty-three, he and my mother lived in Ardmore where they had made a happy home. A few years after his death, my mother decided to move to Oklahoma City so she could be closer to my sister and I. She was a very active lady at the time and we enjoyed many fun adventures together. You see, she was a sort of "force of nature." Everything interested her; golfing, fishing, OU Football, quirky road trips and eating at fun places. She was my best and most fun friend during those years.
 
As the years wore on, things began to change. My fun, active mom was getting older and her body began to wear out. The caregiving really began for me after her first major back surgery. She had stenosis of the spine and this really limited her activities. Over time, the caregiving became constant. This was hard because I am a teacher and work a full time and a part time teaching job. I became too busy, too stressed, too tired, and too sad... yes, sad. I was watching my best friend slowly slip away and our roles were changing.
 
It was about this time that I made a pledge to myself, to dig my heels in and take care of her until the end. I was lucky that she was still determined, fun and active in her mind. I have never regretted my decision to stick by her and be there for her until God took over. Although towards the end, when care taking became harder, there were times I thought "I can't do this anymore," but I did because God gives us strength and angels. Do not be afraid to ask for help! Hospice stepped in with their band of angels and helped me fulfill this pledge to my mother. They enriched her life and supported me through a really tough time. They are forever in my heart and hers, I am sure.
 
I will never regret the years I devoted to her caregiving, no matter the sacrifice. However, there are a few things you must remember:
 
1. All of us go through this if our parents live long enough.
2. Don't go through it alone, ask for help, find out more about hospice care and use it if possible.
3. This situation does not last forever. There will come a day when your loved one is at peace. It is okay to be relieved.
4. Take care of yourself. Go to a movie or out to dinner with friends when you can.
5. You will never regret your commitment when they are gone. You will truly have honored your parent.
 

Sally Ritter
 
I wish everyone the best of luck on your journey. I know it is a tough one. Take care and God Bless.