Life is full of twists and turns. The unexpected is the norm. We know this but the role of the caregiver is a part that no one can be prepared to experience. You can know it is coming. You can think that you are ready, yet feelings of overwhelm and powerlessness can rush in without warning. Most of us have a deep desire to be present and do the right thing for the people we love when they are in need. However, we do not come encoded with a manual on caregiving.
At this moment, the baby boomers are coming of age as the caregivers of the generation before us. Most of us are ill equipped. We are also in denial that we are old enough to become the “parents of our parents.”Some of us step up and take a stand for the people we love. Others withdraw and run as fast as they can from the pain and the process of the caregiver’s journey. No matter how you handle it, there is no way to predict the process or the duration of this call to action.
I did not grow up with gumbo as a regular part of a diet dictated by family. It was something that was brought into my life well into my twenties. I was not aware of how much time, energy, love and skill it took to prepare this glorious dish. Today, that understanding makes me begin to comprehend that making this dish is the perfect metaphor for the life and times of a caregiver.
I have known Nadine Cornish for several years. She went through my Freedom Coach training and often spoke about how much she loved her work and had a calling to share what she had learned with the masses. I knew she was a person of excellence and commitment. I didn’t know, until reading this book, what time, energy, commitment and compassion she has invested into this courageous service to others.
This book, Tears in My Gumbo, is a gift. Nadine does a masterful job of sharing her personal, professional and revelatory stories. The stories are of real people that she has counseled and supported in moments of crisis and change. My heart opened as I read the story of a love so deep that it transcended illness,mental deficiencies and death. Nadine invites us into the experience of the caregiver and the one being cared for. She gently reminds us that we must be prepared because the need to care for another can come in an instant. We, the readers, are asked to take her recipe and get ready for the feast of our lives. She guides us through tender preparations, the gentle sauté, gracious seasoning, and heavy boiling pots, with dexterity. This feast is our tribute, our daily bread, and sometimes the last supper for our loved ones.
I had many personal responses reading this book, including wondering what care I will need when I move toward the end of my life experience. I certainly wish I had been given this book when my mother, at 86 years old, could no longer function on her own. We realized when she was in her seventies that we needed to get her paperwork in order. What we didn’t understand is that when I took on the role as her power of attorney I would be put into positions that were challenging at best. I had to make decisions for the woman who raised me and supported me my whole life.
I wanted to show up powerfully. I wanted to care for her. However, as her care became more complex and time consuming, and as she became at times combative, I felt clueless and anxious on many occasions. I clearly did not have the ingredients I needed to create and deliver a powerful “meal” of support.
Tears in My Gumbo is for anyone who is already a caregiver, becoming a caregiver or knows a caregiver who can use support. I sincerely hope that you will give yourself the gift of this book and share it with others. I have a feeling that readers will want to gift this book to many people and for a long time to come.
Let this beautiful book guide you in the process of loving and caring for others. Why not learn to make “caregiving” gumbo before you need to serve it?
Author, Coach, Speaker
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