I am a huge Randy Pausch fan. His book The Last Lecture was life changing to so many people including myself. It really made me think about my life and my goals. When I saw that his widow Jai, had written a book, I knew I had to read it.
Jai's book, Dream New Dreams was written from a caretakers point of view. In her book you see what she went through trying to raise three kids and save her husband's life. She talks openly about the choices she had to make. At one point she had to leave her kids with relatives while Randy was having chemo treatments. She was constanly being torn in many directions. This book really hit home for me.
Over a year ago, my mom had cancer twice. Its heartbreaking watching someone you love go through it. I did everything I could from research to flying home to take care of her.
The one thing I didn't do was ask my Dad(her caregiver) how he was holding up. As much as I called to talk to my mom or about my mom, I never asked about his feelings or emotional state.
While my mom was in surgery, my father was at my brothers house doing some work. My sister and I were less then pleased about this situtation. They did arrive at the hospital right before she came out of surgery. In hindsight, I should have realized that he was spending his last "free time" have one on one time with his son.
When I arrived home to take care of my mom, my dad yelled "break time" and he was out the door. I spent my time doing laundry, stocking up the house, and taking care of my mom. I also cleaned out the freezer and filled it with frozen home cooked meals( I didn't want my mom to have to eat my Dad's tuna suprise when she was having chemo treatments). Again, I should have realized that my Dad needed a break.
My Dad kept planning trips even though my Mom was in treatment. Really! He wanted to give my Mom things to look forward to. He even booked Christmas in Maryland with the rest of the family. Mom was there and had a great time.
For the next year, he took my mom to all her treatments and appointments. He never complained and was always there for her. He too, gave up a year of his life to make her better. Instead of spending his time on the golf course, he was constantly hanging in waiting rooms. The only time I saw him break down was at Christmas. When she opened her gift from him, he said that he could not give her the one he really wanted to ...her health!!
My mom has made a full recover from both breast and skin cancer! The Kelly clan is back on the road having fun and all is well.
Don't forget to support the caregivers! They need it!