Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Camping for Family Caregivers ...

Hi everyone!

I'm back from a wonderful two weeks at the cottage and am beginning to take on the tasks of real life again. While standing in line at the grocery store this morning, I heard the mom of a disabled child commenting to a friend that camping was great but not exactly a rest for moms. Then, later in the morning, I received an email containing the following poem written by Luci Shaw from her book, Water Lines:


The river rushes along in a hurry
to get somewhere. Our tent is pitched close;
above the oxymoron of its noisy hush
we, in folding chairs on the bank,
wait to slow down, to let the mind wander,
to to turn primitive. Simplicity
is what we say we want - the current's
single-mindedness, even its monotony.

A week goes by. It would be so good
to be aimless. To be content to be aimless.

But we are mothers, keepers of homes.
At the campsite we work to keep the firewood dry,
the butter cool, the food secure from bears.
the tent zipped against mosquitoes,
the water heating for coffee.

We are caught - neither civilized or wild.
Even in the deep forest the houses in town call us,
the families, the phone messages, the bills to be paid,
the laundry; our guilt is alive and waiting.

Out in the centre of the riverbed a single boulder,
embedded in a pebble shoal, sun-washed, gleams.

The message I took from the busy mom's comment, and the poem that followed, is that trying to maintain a normal life for families while caring for an ill or disabled loved one is hard work, even - or especially - during vacation and holiday times.

The picture above was taken of my goddaughter and her mom while we were camping at Porteau Cove many years ago. Her mom, a carepartner extraordinaire, managed to do everything mentioned in the poem and more, but I'm sure that, given half a chance, she would have hired a caregiver's caregiver to come along and allow her some time to taste the simplicity and monotony she was creating so generously for us.

So, if you're camping with a family caregiver this weekend, perhaps you could offer to cook a meal or cut some firewood or do a round of dishes so she can rest awhile in one of those folding chairs ...? She (or he) certainly deserves it!

No comments: