Being a farmer, Harold knows a lot about plants. One day we were out driving and I asked, “What are those pretty blue flowers alongside the road?”
He gave me a quizzical look at my ignorance, and declared, “They are weeds!”
I have a better appreciation of his assessment now than I did then. After I started to help him mow our huge lawn, I noticed that before the grass needed mowing again, weeds popped up and ruined the smooth grassy surface. Drought will turn our lawn brown, but the weeds grow in all their natural glory.
Like our lawn, life would be smooth and beautiful if the weeds of negativity, doubt, and frustration wouldn’t crop up to complicate everything. It is an individual decision whether we let the weeds take over or whether we keep chopping away at them until we can see the beauty again.
Caregivers battle weeds on a daily basis. Most outsiders would think that the hardest part of caregiving would be physical caregiving tasks—feeding, bathing, changing adult diapers, and being responsible for another’s wellbeing—but they would be wrong. The hardest part of caregiving is working past the grief of losing a person you love by degrees.
While a caregiver loses his loved one to the world of dementia, he must cling to himself too. It is not helpful to the caregiver or the person with dementia if the caregiver sacrifices his health to become immersed in his caregiving role.
I know it’s hard to keep the doubts, negativity, and frustration at bay. I often questioned if I could even find enjoyment as Jim’s health declined. Throughout ten years, I struggled to find some balance in my life. It helped that I was still working because that allowed me to have a part of my life that hadn’t changed as much. Oh, I had to leave work from time-to-time to deal with one crisis or another, but still it provided respite from caregiving.
Being involved with the Alzheimer’s walk and becoming an Alzheimer’s advocate gave me a sense of accomplishment. Out of a negative situation, I found purpose and positivity through my volunteer efforts. The most painful time of my life changed me, took me places I would have never been, and introduced me to some of the most amazing people—other caregivers.
Life is no more or less than we make it. Maybe it is my nature to view some weeds as pretty wildflowers. Life offers endless beauty if we allow ourselves to believe in flowers and scoff at weeds.
Copyright © Aug 2018 by L.S. Fisher