Confessions of a Caregiver
I’m the baby of the family. My parents married in midlife when each already had two kids. 11 months after they married … oops … they had me!
The upside to this is I was pretty much raised like an only child during a period when my parents had disposable income. They’d already gone through the struggles of raising kids on entry-level salaries.
I’m spoiled, or so my older siblings tell me. Maybe this is why they’ve picked me as their caregiver.
So the downside of the older brother and sister thing is that I’ve always been the responsible kid. Kept my nose out of trouble and was basically a parent's wet dream to raise
Being the responsible kid, I get to help usher my brothers and sisters off this mortal coil.
Not the way I’d envisioned my own midlife.
Over the years, I’ve watched people during the dying process. There’s a graceful way to go and there’s a totally hideous, hold on to the last moment and go out bitching, way to go.
My siblings are picking the latter way.
I didn’t have kids for a reason. I’m an introvert and extremely precious with my spare time. The thought of having something hanging on my skirts and yelling “look Mommy” for 20 or 30 years made me cringe.
So what do I get?
Truthfully, I don’t know how women do the child raising thing AND run a household AND hold down a job. I don’t. I’m so damn wrung out most days from just living life and caregiving, which at this point isn’t that strenuous, that I don’t. Care? Have any energy? Want to put my feet on the floor most mornings? Yup, all of the above.
Some of this will be funny someday …
Like waking up on a Saturday after your first full night’s sleep in a week to hear, “I had an accident last night … I shit the bed.”
At least he didn’t draw on the walls with it.
Then I found out that he didn’t have any clean pants to wear because I’d forgotten to grab his laundry with mine last week. Crap … literally and figuratively.
He did clean himself up and get most of the poop corralled. Thank God, at least it wasn’t pee.
Sometimes I dream that I’m surfing, except that it’s not water, it’s pee.
Some days, it’s the only thing I can smell. Pee.
How do parents do this?
Dying’s not funny, except when it is.
My brother isn’t going to go meet his maker or the rest of our family any time soon. This is the beginning of the end stage. Hospice is here because of end-stage COPD which I’m told could go on for years.
Lucky me. In two ways.
One, lucky me because I have an adult child living with me in that snarky sarcastic way only I could mean.
Two, lucky me because I get to connect with a brother who at 12 years my senior was basically out of the house and in the military before I could really hold down a conversation. So I get to make up for all those years that he was living his life and I was trying to grow up and we didn’t have a chance to connect.
Meanwhile, I can deal with the poop; and the pee; and the days when I can’t do a damn thing right for him (really, you just called me stupid because you didn’t like where I plugged the lamp in?); and the days when he’s really sick and is having conversations with Grandpa (who’s been dead for 40 some odd years).
I’m his sister, it’s what sisters do.