There are many sayings related to time; time waits for no one; I have more time than money; and, time will tell to just name a few. To a caregiver deep in their duties providing care to another person, time merely is morning to night and sometimes time doesn’t end from one day to the next. Challenges and changes experienced by a caregiver tending to their loved one occurs without much notice of how long or how hard the experience. One day you will have the time to reflect on how you spent the hours and days when you were caregiving.
I cared for my mother 24/7 in my home for 9 ½ years as a sole caregiver. There were many occasions when I wondered if time would ever be on my side again to live in the real world. During some of the darkest hours and days, time truly stood still. Today I am free and when I remember all that I encountered during those years, I honestly ask myself, how did I do that? At some point in time, every caregiver will reflect upon the stress and challenges and ask the same question. I don’t regret a single moment I spent caring for my mother4. However, many of those days, hours and minutes were truly challenging. My book, One Caregiver’s Journey, is a snapshot in time of the changes and challenges I encountered over the 9 ½ years my book spans. Caregiving is not just a dedication of time it is a commitment of compassion and love. Caregiving is duplicity of the ups and downs of life – yours and another person’s.
Time during the pandemic has taken on a new meaning for all of us, not just caregivers. I would surmise that young people who were accustomed to being truly free with their time had a more difficult effort during lockdowns and certainly with restrictions of any kind. On the other hand young people exploded on sites such as TikTok with videos that were entertaining with mindless pranks and talent. For me, I had spent almost a decade alone, mostly isolated from the real world. The pandemic lockdowns didn’t affect me much – or so I thought until this summer when I found myself totally enjoying being in the company of family and friends. Perhaps it does not resonate with the reality of our world which is laden with so much pain, sorrow, hatred, and negativity. I am encouraged to believe that in time we will return a more peaceful existence with each other. I will continue to reintegrate into the real world.
To that end I remind you that none of us knows how much time we have left on our earthly journey. It makes no sense to waste it being angry or spiteful, or to waste it being idle, or looking backwards with “what ifs.” Don’t waste a single minute knowing you will never get it back. Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow’s far away, please remain committed to the good you can do with your time today.
I spent 9 ½ years caring for my mother – she broke her hip at age 93 and died in my home at the age of 102. Certainly she had a good run….she had a remarkable life and she loved everyone around her. Her time with my father was cut short when he passed away only after 48 years of marriage, and my oldest brother passed away at age 61. Time was not always easy for her nor was it always good. In 9 ½ years I also learned so much about myself, my resilience, my strength and my abilities to succeed in something other than my professional career of 40 years. In the 4 years since my mother’s passing time has continued to teach me more about myself. I have also learned that I cannot have the decade back to live but need to make the most of the time given to me now. I hope to forge forward learning about all that occurred while time stood still for me.
I hope everyone reading this blog will recognize the importance of using time wisely and making the most of time. Pandemic or not, the clock continues to tick.