I’ve been a part of a neighborhood book group for several years now. We meet once a month, rotating homes, and spend a few minutes chatting about our lives, families and work before plunging into what usually turns out to be a rousing discussion of our month’s book.
All of the members are women roughly similar to me in age and life situation. Most of us are mothers or grandmothers; most of us can readily identify with the life of the family caregiver.
Last evening as we discussed John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” we shared stories from our parents and grandparents of the hardships of the depression. Many stories brought tears to our eyes, as we talked of parents recently lost, or parents we’re currently caring for in one way or another.
One thing we each acknowledged was the life changing experience of being a caregiver for our parents. We talked of how hard it is at first, how the role-change is awkward and unwelcome initially. We shared how, in the end, the rewards of caregiving can far exceed the challenges.
The shift in roles from child to adult, from care recipient to care provider requires each of us to find our way through sometimes challenging, unknown territory. As we support each other, sharing our stories and offering support and encouragement, the way seems less overwhelming and just a little easier to bear. Knowing we’re not alone makes all the difference in navigating our way to a place where we find joy and reward in the role of caregiving.