I was a caregiver for my father who suffered with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for almost 30 years. I shared the responsibility with my mom and my four sisters. My dad fought a long battle, and as a family, we faced many challenges. As a girl growing up, all I knew was my dad was sick; being the youngest of five girls, I was also my dad’s sidekick. I did everything I could with him.
When my dad’s MS progressed, my mom, myself and my sisters did everything for him. And when I say everything, I mean everything. We helped my dad shower, eat, get dressed and every other daily living task in between. We got through it together because of my dad’s sense of humor and my mom’s emphatic ways of keeping everything in order – excessive cleaning and strict green clean eating to help my dad. Yes, we ate soy, bran and tofu before it was a thing! Imagine a 9 year old at lunch with some tofu concoction in the 80’s (not the favorite at the lunch table!).
Nevertheless, when my father passed away in 2014, my mom’s role as his primary Caregiver came to a screeching halt. As it often happens with primary Caregivers, my mom’s health declined. My sisters and I now stepped in as her primary Caregiver. Fast forward to 2017, it’s been two months since my mom passed away, and I have been reflecting on life. I realize I have one major regret:
I regret not spending more quality time with my parents.
I wish I knew then what I know now.
Instead of running in to quickly drop off my dad’s prescription or my mom’s dinner, I wish I hung around longer. I wish I sat for an hour or two – not just for twenty minutes. Don’t get me wrong, we spent a lot of time with my parents. With five children, seven grandchildren and over 35 first cousins, there were a lot of weddings, funerals, baptisms, BBQs and many family celebrations. However, there is something to be said for just sitting in the living room together, talking, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company.
I will say that I am truly thankful that my parents watched my children when I returned to work. My children have their own memories, stories and connections to hold onto during the hard days of grieving, which is a blessing!
So, take it from me; I learned my lesson the hard way. Stay longer, talk more, and laugh as much as you can.
Cherish the little moments because they end up being the big ones.
Deanna @ Drive
Deanna, a Drive team member in Digital Marketing has cared for her dad and mom through many disease related challenges; her experience as a Caregiver has made her a stronger person and a Caregiver advocate.