All four children (and one brave spouse) came to town to help go through the final household items – these were mostly personal or historical documents … the items we just don’t know how to handle. We figured if we did it together, it would be easier to feel confident in our decisions.
What I recognize in looking back on some difficult conversations is that we are all skilled differently and have varied roles to play as we care for our parents.
My role has developed as the primary care manager for my parents. I took the crazy calls, battled with them and witnessed their worst over the past year. The role has changed me. I believe it’s made me kinder and gentler. However, I realized that I expected my siblings to fill in as I do as a care giver. That is unfair – I’ve been in training for this role for years and am still learning on the job.
My parents are no longer the people who raised us. We see glimmers of our parents, but they are now both incapable of interacting with us as our parents used too. As they changed, so must we.
We are still finding the balance, but just as I changed to adapt to my parents, I know I need to adapt to understand the changing role of me and my siblings. I know how lucky I am they are all engaged and willing to help. Thankful.
6 thoughts on “Finding our Roles as Siblings and Care Givers”
Kay, you nailed it dead-on with this:
“I’ve been in training for this role for years and am still learning on the job.
My parents are no longer the people who raised us. We see glimmers of our parents, but they are now both incapable of interacting with us as our parents used too. As they changed, so must we.”
My oldest sister checked out emotionally after my dad died and my older twin sister was a few hours away with responsibilities and her own life, but as an adult I had always been the closest to my parents and the one who kept close, so it was logical that I would move back to where Mama lived after Daddy died and be “the one.” I never resented them because it wasn’t really any different that it had always been after we grew up and left the house.
The role of parenting our parents, though – that’s a tough one. But I always – and to the best of my human ability, I tried to – told Mama that I was going to do my best to make sure her second childhood was better than her first. If I succeeded at that – and God only knows – then it was all worth it (the crazy and mean stuff that I know she would have been appalled at if she was in her “right” mind – that taught me lessons to, so I’m even thankful for that).
Thank you. So much learning going on … trying to share. I know I’m lucky in many ways to have siblings who work together.
I have not commented here for a while, mostly because I don’t have the same amount of energy or ability anymore. However, I wanted to how much I have learnt through your blog, and your willingness to openly share your ever changing life. I really like this blog, and agree with the person commenting before me.
Her comment – do my best to make sure her second childhood was better than her first – caught my eye and heart too. What a lovely thought. I had a ‘challenging’ childhood, so the idea of my husband making the second one better is quite lovely!!
As we all learn to grow and change in this very new world of dementia, as carers, or as people living with it, it is comforting to have others by our side. Thanks for being there for me too…it has helped me enormously to gain insight into what my husband and children are going through.
With love and hope, always.
Thank you Kate. Your writing, friendship and encouragement have helped me so much on this journey.
Hugs, hugs, hugs!