I spent a week visiting my mom in Ohio and often thought about the word caregiver, which is defined on dictionary.com as “one who gives care to an adult or infant.” This rings poetic for me – one who gives care. I imagine care as one of those English words that probably has hundreds of translations in another language.
My mom needs care with most everything now. Giving her care is not so much poetic as practical. How do you lift a grown woman into a wheelchair? Mom, are you in pain? Is your bed at the right height? Is the catheter irritating your leg? Is this food the right texture for you to eat? Do you need your oxygen?
I’m participating in a universal human ritual – a child taking care of her mother at the end of her life. Though happening all too terribly soon. My mom is only 65.
My sister Trish does this everyday. She is a mother, daughter and primary caregiver to our mom, for which I’m incredibly grateful. She has had countless sleepless nights entitling her to give up – but she hasn’t.
Giving care is an act of love and selflessness. It is exhausting, frustrating and rewarding. It’s part of the human life-cycle.
Artists have addressed the grief, love and hope related to the end-of-life care of a loved one. Artist Linda Montano dropped out of the art world for seven years to take care of her dad before his death in Dad Art. Using footage from their time together as well as a choreographed performance she created a film that “allows for an experience of shared communal grieving.”
And artist AA Bronson found his healer-self while the primary caregiver of his partners from General Idea who both died of AIDS in 1997. In an interview he said, “Towards the end, a nurse came every day, and a doctor visited once a week. I learned things from the nurses, like how to do different kinds of injections and those kinds of things. I felt like care-giving was something I was good at, so I began taking my healing courses. But it was ten years later before I found the courage to actually do it for the public.”(PURPLE FASHION magazine #11, Paris, 2009).
What’s your story of giving care?
Thanks for reading.