Halloween with Rodger

 

Halloween candy

“What time do the kids come?”

My father-in-law asked that same question every year on Halloween.

“Six o’clock.”

“Good. I eat at four. I’ll have time to get ready.”

I wondered what he did to get ready for when he did come down from his room at precisely 5:45 he looked no different than he had earlier in the day. He’d be wearing the same brown flannel shirt tucked into brown pants along with the black shoes and white sox he’d put on when he got up in the morning. He would have shaved that day so his grey stubble wasn’t as pronounced as the day before, but not because of the holiday. He shaved every three days and had for years. His hair would be slicked back as always and his face would hold the same dour expression that greeted me every day.

“I hope I don’t get too tired. I’m not as strong as I used to be.”

“You don’t have to give out the candy. I can do it,” I said.

“No. I have to. It’s my job,” he insisted.

“Why? I did it before you came to live here. I can do it now if you want to stay in your room.”

“I do it!” he snapped before moving a dining room chair close to the window and peering out to see if any young ghosts or witches were coming.

Seeing the street was still clear of trick-or-treaters he peered into the large wooden bowl full of candy and started to mumble.

“I hope this is enough. She didn’t buy enough. Oh no.”

“I have more. That’s all that will fit in the bowl for now. I can add more as we need it.”

“I can add more. It’s up to me. What time do the kids come?”

“Six o’clock. If you get tired before they stop coming let me know. I’ll pass out the rest.”

“I have to do it. I give them each one piece, right? What time do they come?”

“They should start coming at six o’clock. Give them more than one piece, we have plenty.”

“Two pieces. I give them each two pieces. What time do they stop coming? I hope I don’t get too tired. I’m not strong like I used to be.”

“You don’t have to do this. I can do it if it’s too much for you.”

“I told you, I have to do it. It’s my job”

“Why?”

“Because I’m the oldest and the oldest gives out the candy.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. In his mind that’s the way it should be. Every year, as long as he was able, I let it him pass out the candy. I kept an eye on him and when it was clear he was tiring I made sure the bowl emptied quickly, turned out the light and helped him back to his room. He always slept late in the morning and woke proud that once again he had done his job.

The kids still start coming around six o’clock and the big bowl still stands ready at precisely 5:45. There is plenty more to refresh the bowl at least three times. So many things remain the same. Something very important has changed. Now I’m the oldest and I give out the candy. I miss him.

To read more about Bobbi and Rodger purchase a copy of her book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver. Blog followers receive a discount when ordering directly.

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A Year of The Imperfect Caregiver

It was one year ago today that The Imperfect Caregiver blog appeared for the first time. Within days I started hearing from other caregivers and caregiver bloggers and with each new connection I learned more about how enormous this community is and how little the people around us know about what we do and the impact it has on our society.

As a writer I try to inform through story telling. In doing so I hope to connect with caregivers and the people around them. So often our family members don’t understand what it’s like to care for a seriously ill loved one twenty-four hours a day for a period of many months or years.

Siblings live far away and can only visit once or twice a year. Others have demanding jobs that keep them too busy to help. Families aren’t perfect, many have troubled histories filled with anger and resentment. A son, daughter, mother or father may have good reason  to stay far away from someone who abused them in the past. Still someone must step up and when that someone is you your life changes dramatically. Even when the person you care for is a treasured spouse, parent or child the constant demands can become too much and the caregiver begins to fall apart.

Quotes by caregivers include:

“I haven’t had a good nights sleep in 4 days! I just want to walk away from it all, but I won’t.”

“Oh lord, I think my family might be on the verge of working as a team. Please make it true.”

“This is taking a toll on my marriage of 31 years and its breaking my heart.”

“I want my mom back. This is a nightmare.”

“I go along with her delusions, she’s upset. If I try to tell her the truth, she’s upset. Nothing is helping.”

“I’ll never understand the disease…but today I’m at peace. I pray you all are blessed with these rare moments too.”

And here’s a quote from me about one of the hardest days I had as a caregiver:

“I put my head in my hands and I cried. It wasn’t a dainty cry with gentle tears moistening my cheek. It was a hard-driving, gut wrenching, chest heaving, sloppy, ugly, sobbing cry. My nose ran and my eyes burned from the force of it and there were moments when I thought I might never stop. But I did. And then I started again. And again after that. And again after that, until my eyes were nearly swollen shut and my head pounded and my heart stopped aching. I cried. I let it out. But you know what? That didn’t make me weak.I was still the caregiver and I was thankful. … I was thankful for a good hard cry.”

As you can tell from these comments caregivers don’t have all the answers nor do they have unlimited resources or energy. They simply do what needs to be done. And that takes a very special person.

wisdom and energy

If you know a caregiver reach out and lend a hand to help or an ear to listen and let him or her know they are not alone.

Thank you for following The Imperfect Caregiver.

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