Valentin from New Mexico

My name is Valentin Varela and I share with my four brothers and four sisters caregiver responsibilities for my mother. My mother's name is Ruby O. Varela and she lives in Pecos, New Mexico, a small rural community located 25 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico. My mother is 93 years old and lives in the home where she raised her 9 children. She and my father were married for 63 years until his death in March 2012. In addition to the formidable task of raising her 9 children, she provided child care in her home for the children of many neighbors and family members allowing the mothers to work outside the home.

Because of mobility and memory issues that have emerged in my mother's advanced age, my brothers, sisters, and I have provided constant companionship for my mother since March 2012. We are blessed to have 9 of us to share the responsibility for providing this service to my mother. We have also been blessed with my mother's relatively good health. She has not been bedridden and her vision and hearing have remained very good. She has also maintained a good appetite throughout. Her children, including me, have volunteered to stay with my mother on designated days and nights. One of my brothers is single and lives with my mother, and one of my sisters lives close to my mother. Because of proximity to her, they serve as my mother's primary caregivers, handling matters such as home maintenance, finances, utilities and fuel, personal hygiene, and doctors' appointments. The other 7 of us have designated days to stay with my mother. I typically travel approximately 100 miles from my home in Corrales, New Mexico to Pecos, NM on Thursday evenings. I spend the night at my mother's house and spend Friday with her. In addition to accompanying her, I cook meals, help her get dressed, make sure that she takes any necessary medications, and generally assist as necessary with all her life activities. I engage her in conversation and we watch television together; mainly Catholic television programming, which gives us material to talk about.

While spending time with my mother on a regular basis is a sacrifice of time available for other interests, that time is precious to me. My mother is the most loving person that I know. I thank God for her long life and the privilege to share time with her in which I can see her face and hear her voice. I love her dearly and cannot think of anything that is more important for me to do than return the love that she has given me over my 65 years of life. Her memory may be going, but her loving spirit is very much alive. I want her to be happy and comfortable in her home with people she loves for as long as she is alive.

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