Gayle from Maine

For the past 10 years my husband and I have been caregivers. At first we were caring for his mom,Marion every weekend/every night. Since we worked full-time, it meant that we never had any downtime. Marion had a series of strokes that left her deaf and she had macular degeneration. She couldn't hear and could marginally read a whiteboard, but she was appreciative, happy, and a joy. We had caregivers for the work hours. We eventually got help from her daughter and nieces. It was during this time that we also traveled an hour each way to care for my dad every other weekend. He also was thankful, kind, and had a great sense of humor. He maintained his faculties right to his death and what a breadth of knowledge he shared. He passed away in 2009 at age 95.75. My mother-in-law lived to age 89 passing away in 2012. After my dad died, we noticed that my mother who had been a picture of health at 90 was actually having cardiac issues. She remained alone, but my siblings and I kept a careful eye on her. She was stubborn and refused help so we just started staying with her. Today she is 97 and is in her closing days, weeks, months, but we don't think years. We all work full time, but stay with her 24/7. The rewards of caring for our parents have been many and the burdens are there, but they are short lived. We only have our parents for such a short time and then they are gone forever. I will have all of my memories of hearing their stories and knowing I, we, gave our love unconditionally as they did for us so many years before.

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