September 2014 Publisher Letter
Aug 29, 2014 12:21PM
Reading Deborah Shouse’s September feature article, “Conscious Caregiving,” reminded me of an incident that occurred with my family about a year ago. My father, now 80, had been slowing down yet insisted on continuing to perform many of the same activities and household chores that he always had done, which really concerned my sister and me. Because he had developed a hernia, I didn’t want him engaged in any heavy lifting. So, when our parents’ five-gallon water bottle needed to be replaced, I asked my sister’s fiancé, Ben, to help.
Ben cheerfully went into the kitchen and stood by quietly, watching my father roll the bottle across the floor, lift it first onto a chair and then into the dispenser. I felt myself getting annoyed that the younger man wasn’t jumping in to take over the task. However, as I watched, I realized the wisdom of the alternate approach. Ben was simply making himself present and available if help was needed and wanted, and at the same time, he was respecting my father and managing not to infringe on his sense of empowerment. It was a huge lesson for me that proved to be necessary preparation for what was to come just a few months later.
These days, my father finds himself more disabled than before, as he recovers from a stroke in November 2013 and a triple bypass surgery in March. Thankfully, I’m now better able to respect the importance of allowing him to have a voice in how he lives his life, and I rejoice to see the difference such an attitude makes in all of our lives. When Dad is listened to and heard, his mood is so uplifted and energized that it affects his entire state of well-being and promotes his recovery.
Trying to get my stepmother, Carol, to take proper care of herself is another issue. She has so selflessly devoted herself to caring for my father that it’s taken a toll on her personal well-being. I’m glad she’s now returned to working one day a week and goes out for walks as often as possible. I hope this month’s issue will inspire her and our readers to try a weekly yoga class, too. I look forward to sharing it with her.
Here’s to cultivating our patience, empathy and respect towards ourselves and others,
Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher