“I don’t want to be a burden…”

Most of you know that I began this blog as a way to deal with my own grief…while watching my Mother slowly die, literally and figuratively, of Alzheimer’s Disease. Those who loved her beyond reason, had to stand by and watch her descend into that living hell. She remained home, with family, until we could no longer give her the care that she so desperately needed. One of our strategies, to keep her home as long as possible, was to “share” the responsibility of her care among the four children and my Father. Part of my responsibility (and honor) was to stay with her and Daddy, one week out of every month (more often, as I could)…

Mother had gotten to a point where she could not bathe herself, go to the bathroom by herself, or feed herself. So, on this particular day, it was time for her shower. I found it easier (and safer) to just get in the shower with her, and gently bathe her as we talked, laughed, and reminisced. Some times this was a difficult task for her, in that she could not follow or understand anything that I was saying. Other times, bathing was easy, and she would assist me with her own care.

We were both in the shower, drenched from head to toe, and she placed her hand on my arm and made me stop. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I never wanted you children to have to do this. I never wanted to be a burden.” Those words broke my heart and I struggled to find just the right thing to say, to convince her that she was never a burden to us. With a smile on my face, I said, “Mama, didn’t you tell me that when I was a baby, while nursing, the only way you could get me to go to sleep was to let me pinch the skin under your arm, and roll it back and forth between my fingers?” She smiled so sweetly with the memory, and said, “Yes, that’s right.” I asked her, “Didn’t it hurt?” She said, “Yes, but that motion somehow soothed you, and you would go to sleep every time.” I then said, “Didn’t you spend countless, sleepless nights, sitting by my bed, or laying beside me, or just holding me, because I was so sick that you would not leave me alone?” Again, she said, “Yes, I did!” I continued to tell her that there were too many examples to count, too many memories of selfless sacrifices that she had made not only in my behalf, but for all of her children. I asked her if she considered being our Mother a burden. She looked at me in shock, and said, “No! I loved all of you, and I wanted to take care of you!” I then explained that we were doing the same thing for her now; that we wanted to take care of her, out of our love for her. She smiled through tears, and said “OK, then! That’s settled.”

Some times the greatest gift we can give someone is to simply accept their help and caring. Those who are being cared for DO feel like a “burden” to their family. You have a choice as to how you are going to make that person feel…You have a choice as to HOW you are going to give that care – either out of guilt or out of love…and your actions will indicate which choice you made. Have you let your parents, or loved ones, know that they are NOT a burden? Or do you let them know how inconvenienced you are? I tell families and caregivers all the time, “It’s not that you just gave the care, and got it accomplished, but rather, HOW you gave the care.” Do you make them feel guilty? Let those individuals, the ones you are caring for, know that providing care and assistance is an act of love… I don’t ever want someone I love to feel as if they are a burden to me. Caring should be given freely, from the heart. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

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8 thoughts on ““I don’t want to be a burden…”

  1. Steve Gray says:

    Cathy, this is beautiful!

  2. D. Ygama says:

    Hi Cat, wow this was a very hard read. But through all the bad times you managed to emphasize on the good as always. I am very sorry you lost your Mom. May all your loving memories always shine through. You were very blessed to have her with you all those years. Your beautiful stories and caring show what wonderful parents you have been blessed with. Hey, of course they were wonderful….they made you! 🙂 Cant wait to see you guys in a few!!!!! We are excited!!! Love you, D.

  3. AmazingSusan says:

    I too have cared and continue to care for my mom, and I appreciate your heartfelt post.

    Initially, I did not want to be my mother’s primary caregiver; it was an excruciatingly difficult choice and one I was compelled to make because she wasn’t getting the care she deserved.

    The journey since has been both tragic and joyful and I’m grateful I made the decision I did four years ago.

    One thing is certain, I will have no regrets knowing I did everything I possibly could for her ❤

    One of my posts here: http://myalzheimersstory.com/2014/02/27/5-uplifting-emotions-felt-by-alzheimers-dementia-caregivers/

    • Cat Selman says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Susan! (And also for sharing your post!) It is indeed a difficult journey, but I agree with you…there are NO regrets. You will be confident that you gave this wonderful last gift to your Mom! I will keep both of you in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Cat Selman says:

    Thank you, D! I know how blessed I have been in my life. And I do hope that I emulate what my parents taught me. Hopefully, my life is part of their legacy, and I want to be worthy of their “investment.” We are excited too!! Plan on laughing a lot this weekend…..

  5. Wendell Greenleaf says:

    Once again, my friend, you have been a great healer for me with your story of Love, compassion, and the understanding of the free gift God has given us to share, even with those who have loved us first.

    • Cat Selman says:

      So glad you are still following Wendell! And I am pleased that maybe these stories are helping others in the paths that their lives are taking. Hope to see you in AL at the October conference!!

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