Time for Yourself Is Non-Negotiable
Miss Yvonne’s one and only brother was her best friend and she loved him fiercely. She felt it was her honor to care for her brother, Isaac. Though wheelchair bound, Isaac was a strong man, with a chiseled face and a great big heart. He was socially conscious, loved politics and was concerned about humanity as a whole.
Her mom, Miss Lilly, was and had always been someone special. Even with dementia, she always had an endearing smile on her face. Miss Lilly was a lady of style and charm. Petite and loving, she always had a kind word for everyone. She affectionately referred to me and many others as “Sugah.”
Miss Yvonne also exemplified how important it was to do the things you still loved to do while caregiving. She understood the need for respite care and creating time for herself. She regularly got together with her old friends, went out to lunch, saw Broadway plays, and took in her favorite musicians when they came to town. She loved shopping and dining out and did those things as often as she could. Miss Yvonne always knew how to have a good time, and being a caregiver wasn’t going to change that. She even had a group of friends who loved taking annual cruises to the Caribbean with her. She grew up connected, and stayed connected, no matter what challenge life threw her way. For Miss Yvonne, caregiving wasn’t a burden. It was an honor.
As for me, I was exhausted. The joy and grace I wanted and needed seemed to elude me. Miss Yvonne, however, manifested an unparalleled grace. She was who I wanted to be when I grew up. When this would happen, I couldn’t say.
When my mother passed away, Miss Yvonne was right there to support and encourage me. How did she do it? How could she do it? Where was her reserve and how could she give so much when she was already giving so much? A year later, with her support and encouragement, I would launch The Caregiver’s Guardian, LLC (TCG). Six months later, I was at the hospital with Miss Yvonne when her brother died. She was grieving his loss and was not prepared for his transition. Even after caring for him day in and day out for twelve years, she was not ready for him to be gone. There was no solace for Miss Yvonne. Her brother’s funeral would be the first of many TCG would assist in coordinating.
I would visit Miss Yvonne and her mom regularly after her brother’s death. Seven months later, I would call and learn Miss Lilly had passed unexpectedly. Again, I would help Miss Yvonne coordinate a funeral for a loved one.
I am humbled by role models with character such as Miss Yvonne’s. I could not imagine handling the loss of two people, two people I loved and cared for and lost in such close proximity to each other. Miss Yvonne exemplifed grace under fire and did so with a regal dignity. She honors her loved ones’ memories and knows she did everything she could for them while they were alive. With regard to their deaths, she said, “Yes, I miss them dearly, but there are no regrets.” She had given her all in love and caring, and she was satisfied.
I learned so much from Miss Yvonne. She has become both a mentor and mother figure to me. She embodies the very essence of who I aspire to be with her loving spirit, calm nature and incredible sense of knowing. The lessons I’ve learned from her about positive attitude and love are lessons I share with all of my clients.
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