Celebrating the Caregiving Mother

by Renée Canada

There are the mothers who ignore the claims that you are fine, despite the out-of-nowhere, repeated falls you’ve just taken and seizure-like jerks in your body, and insist on taking to you to the ER. There are the mothers who are by your side, night and day, during the scariest week of your life in the hospital when your body has decided quite violently that you are no longer its boss and that something else is pulling the strings. There are the mothers who take your calls when you can no longer speak. They literally become your voice, acting as fierce warriors on your behalf when the system is failing you.

There are the mothers (and fathers) who let you sleep in your parents’ bed for weeks until you are stable enough to sleep on your own. They rearrange their work schedule to telecommute full-time from home so they can watch you. They bring you your meals on trays and make sure you have all your pills and vitamins. They work by your side, taking a break to watch a mutual favorite show daily with you.

They tenderly give you a bath, and wash and comb your hair, while still respecting your privacy as a grown woman. They comfort you when you are inconsolable. They soothe you as only a mother can, holding you close, stroking your face with their soft, cool hands that seem to wash all your worries away in an instant.

There are the mothers who accompany you to every single doctor’s appointment. There are the mothers who advocate on your behalf when your voice or your spirit fails you. They remember the things you’d be trying so hard not to forget about crucial details of your experiences.

There are the mothers and fathers desperate to do anything they can to help their baby child. They have hushed conversations at night about you, worrying, praying, and sometimes crying. They are looking for answers. You are praying not for yourself, but for your parents. They don’t deserve to have to go through this, to have to helplessly watch their child suffer again and again with no promise of relief, no end in sight. This should be their time in life, but instead they find themselves caregivers of their adult child.

There are mothers who don’t allow a bad period of medical episode spoil the end of a beautiful Mother’s Day. They soften your fall. They cradle you until you are able to come back to, when you can once again stand. There are mothers who gracefully receive a card with these additional heartfelt words added: Thank you for all the love and support you’ve given, for being by my side and seeing me through my most difficult days. I couldn’t do any of this without you, Mom. I love you so very much.

These mothers, more precious than gold, say: “There’s no place I’d rather be than by your side.”

Joseph Brieno, Jr.(Jay), a soldier left paralyzed, brain-damaged and blind after being shot in the back of the head in a Baghdad marketplace, has one of these mothers. Eve, has transformed their home into an intensive care unit, grooming him, exercising his limbs, clearing his lungs of liquid. She could have put Jay into a nursing home, but she felt he would receive better care from someone who loves him: his mother. “A bullet in Baghad, a son’s need, a mother’s love” tells more of Eve’s incredible devotion to her son.

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