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CutestDadintheWorld

1986- Katie, Mark and Christopher

It’s an old familiar expression, but it really does seem like yesterday when my children were small. On those hard days, I remember worrying if they’d ever grow up and be responsible. Then they did. I thought it would be a joyful day when they were no longer dependent on me. And it was in a sort of sad way because I realized how swiftly those days flew.

It sounds strange when your adult child says, “I need to go home” and they are no longer referring to the home you provided for them for so many years. It’s feels weird when a doctor walks past you to give your grown child’s surgery report to their spouse. It’s rewarding to see how well they manage life without you, but there are times when I really miss being needed and feeling their loving arms around my neck in a tight squeeze and slobbery kisses on my cheek. These are memories I will cherish forever.

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June 1991, first picture with the kids after the car accident.

I see excellent mothers all around me. I can’t help wishing at times I had their patience or was more playful with my children. I regret the weight of responsibility which I let weigh me down. I’m disappointed I wasn’t more carefree. I worried about money and not having enough of it. When I compare myself to others, I feel inadequate and remorseful even though I realize each circumstance and situation is different. I know I did the best I knew how at the time and see that my two children have grown into wonderful adults. I still wish I would have done better while they were in my care.

It’s hard to let go because of all the energy, time and emotions put into the role of motherhood. My biggest desire is not only to be a good caregiver and companion to Mark, but also to be a good mother. I have spent years and probably all of my adulthood trying to improve my skills to fit that description. I feel blessed to have so many great examples of nurturing women all around me. I learn and am inspired by them.

 

Mom & I

2006- Mom & I

A few things I learned about my mother after I became one:

 

Motherhood was physically draining until I reached a level of being able to care for myself.

She sacrificed a lot of time and money for me.

Perhaps she had better things to do than driving me to dance lessons, school and other activities, but she didn’t complain about it.

She probably didn’t enjoy my piano practicing any more than I did, but she wanted me to improve so she insisted on it.

As a teenager, I was emotionally draining, causing many headaches and heartaches.

She will love and care about me no matter what. Her unconditional love is greater than most other relationships.

She wasn’t always right, but neither was I.

It doesn’t matter how old I am, I’m still her baby.

Possibly she will spend all her days wanting to protect me from mistakes which may cause physical and/or emotional pain.

I’m fortunate to have a mother who cares. As I’ve matured, I realize not everyone is so lucky.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who give so much care to others. I appreciate your examples.

I love being a mother to these three.

Chris w-band

2014 – Christopher

Katie & Eldin

2016-Katie and Eldin, my bonus son-in-law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy another one of my favorite songs.

 

How to Recognize Angels

AngelsIn Laura’s Story, Part 5, by Christine Scott, she remembers the angels in their lives who came to their aid after the death of her father. We often think of angels as beautiful beings with wings, but Christine was referring to family, friends and even strangers who helped them through a difficult time. A friend of her father sold equipment and hang gliders and put collection jars around town to raise money for their family. An aunt single-handedly packed up their belongings to help with the move and grandparents who welcomed them to live in their home.

These were angels who walked among them on earth—real people with mortal bodies. These wonderful people seemed to be sent from above and knew just what was needed at the moment. How can we recognize the angels in our lives? The answer is simple: acknowledge the kindness and help given to you. Those people who have made a positive impact in your life. I’ve been thinking about it and have listed a few.

  • Our biggest angels are parents. They brought you into the world and most of them sacrificed time and money for your care and well-being. They spent sleepless nights when you were sick or out too late. They were your advocates in sports, music and/or drama. They were your cheerleaders in school and other activities.
  • Our littlest angels are children. They are pure and wise beyond their years. Their innocence and curiosity gives us a new and delightful outlook on things which are often taken for granted.
  • Friends who are honest and loyal and lift you up when you’re feeling down.
  • Teachers who taught you how to read, write and do arithmetic. Most have angelic patience and without their help, you wouldn’t be able to read this right now.
  • Doctors and nurses who attend to your medical needs and help you feel better.
  • Therapists who help you overcome hardships and improve your abilities with their knowledge and encouragement.

We can all be angels by lending a helping hand. As we appreciate and recognize the good in others, more angels become apparent.  When I think of the angels in my life, I realize they all have at least two things in common. First of all they are thoughtful and caring and second, they don’t always seem like angels. But how can they? They are people with mortal bodies and not perfected yet.

It reminds me of a “standing joke” Mark and I have. When I help him stand up I often say, “Look up at my halo,” to encourage him upward. To that he replies, “Oh there it is, resting on top of your horns.”

It’s true, sometimes I’m sweet and sometimes I’m not. However, by recognizing and appreciating the helpfulness in others, it usually triggers more kindness.

Who are the angels in your life and why?

My Son

I can’t believe my baby is 33 years old today. It seemed like we waited forever for him, 3 1/2 years to be exact. Once he got here the time has flown by. One of my favorite children’s books is Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch. “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” I relate perfectly to his words. I’m proud to be Christopher’s mom! Christmas has been double the pleasure since he was born! It was wonderful to be able to spend some time with him last week. Happy Birthday Chris Wilson​! My Son1

Who is the Real Caregiver

“I’m not sure who the caregiver is in this marriage,” Neils said in part 1 of his story, Dancing with Class.

In his part 2, he explains in more detail some of what she does for him. “Her gentle prodding, encouragement and constructive criticism is the gas in my tank. She is the light in the tunnel, the gentle whisper in my ear, my tease, my best friend and motorized mentor who runs over my toes when I get curmudgeonly.”

“Judith has never given up. She always listens to people’s stories and encourages them to fight on.”

I loved Neils closing remark, “My part as a caregiver is insignificant compared to what Judith offers. So, I ask again, who is the real caregiver?”

I  wholeheartly relate and have written about it myself in three other articles.

IMG_0333I’m a full-time caregiver and occasionally I’ve been asked, “Who takes care of you?” Well, I’ll tell you…

Mark is my caregiver. He may not be able to make a meal or do the physical chores of housekeeping or yard work, but he does care about me and gives me support by waiting patiently for me to complete a task before taking care of his needs. He also lifts my spirits with humor, companionship and good times. Being with him is a pleasure. I love his wit and sense of humor. He also gives care through letters, expressing love and appreciation. These letters mean more to me than if he were able to give me flowers.

My parents are my caregivers and have been my whole life. Even though they are well into their eighties, they give me and many others lots of care through meals, visits and sincere interest in what is going on in my life, along with any help or assistance I may need.

My siblings are my caregivers and they too have been my whole life. They are all busy with their own lives and children, but they make time to check up on us. If I ever need anything I always know I can call on any one of them. It’s wonderful to feel the love and support of family!

My children are my caregivers. When they were small it was wonderful to feel their love and admiration. They were sure I could fix anything and no one was stronger. As they grew, experience taught them differently, but their love kept me going. They are my strength and what motivates me to do and be better. Their care is different now they are busy adults and no longer dependent on me, but I still feel their care and love and it means a whole lot to me.

My neighbors and friends are my caregivers. They give with listening ears and a caring heart. They give understanding, support and friendship. They are observant for what they can do to help without me asking for it. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by people who are anxious to help. Many times in the winter my snow is shoveled off my walks and I have no idea who did it.

My church provides caregiving. Not only do I find comfort and solace in my church activities, but my association with people there has led to friendships and an organized volunteer program where two people come twice a week to help Mark with his exercises.

So I just have to say, I’m one lucky caregiver. I’m supported by a lot of other caregivers who probably don’t think of themselves as caregivers. But I know they are and I know I couldn’t do my caregiving without them.

If you care and you give, you are a caregiver. If you drive someone to an appointment, prepare a meal, watch children, or go shopping for someone else, you are a caregiver. You may think you’re just doing what anyone else would do—but anyone who helps is a caregiver.

Thank you, Neils, for reminding us of the many acts of service which are considered caregiving.

Who’s your caregiver? Feel free to leave your recognition in the comment square.

My related articles:

What Makes a Caregiver

Six Traits of a Caregiver

No Foolin’, You’re a Caregiver

The Importance of Raising Resilient Children

children-dancing-in-rainI suppose it’s natural for a parent to want to protect their child from disappointment and heartache. I worried for more than six weeks about when the right time would be for our kids to see their dad who was comatose and had several other life threatening health problems from the car accident. They asked me every day when they would be able to see him. At ages seven and eight years old they couldn’t understand how severely hurt he was until they saw him. I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor do I know that my timing was perfect. What I do know is that I had their best interest in mind when I made the decision. Christopher and Katie were stunned when they walked into the room where their dad lay unconscious. At the first sight of him they stopped in their tracks and with unbelieving, widened eyes looked at him. The surgical masks they were required to wear in his room hid their opened mouths. Afraid to get any closer, they stayed just inside the doorway, speechless. What I learned from this experience is that our children are stronger and more resilient than I realized. They quickly recovered from the shock of their dad’s condition and the next time they saw him they weren’t afraid.

Since life is full of various illnesses, threats, tragedy, death, family and other relationship problems, it’s impossible to save them from all the adversities of life. Therefore, it’s essential to help our children rise above hurting because disastrous things will happen in their lives. Just as it is with adults, it’s common for children to experience setbacks, unwanted challenges, failures and even difficulties at home and school. If we protect our children from every fall, which is tempting to do, how will they learn to bounce back? As adults, it’s rewarding to see resilient children who are capable of effectively handling disappointment, failure and obstacles. Teaching children how to recover from hard times is important.

Here are four great tips I found on http://www.raisingresilientkids.com/.

Tip # 1 Give Our Children Undivided Attention

Quality time with children is more than just being with them physically. We must give them undivided attention by listening with our heart. When we give our full attention, they will feel important. They will be confident they can trust and depend on us in handling their situation.

Tip #2 Put Yourself in Your Child’s Shoes

When you face difficult situations and setbacks, you may talk to your spouse or a friend about it. All too often their response will be, “It’s okay, you can try again next time.” There’s nothing wrong with this reaction, however, it’s not what you wanted to hear. You want empathy and assurance that they will be with you until you are able to recover from your disappointment. Your children also need these things when they are down. They don’t want lectures or advice. Letting them know you understand them and you’re willing to support them will teach them resilience.

Tip # 3 Don’t Judge or Criticize Your Children

Accepting your children for who they are is one of the best ways to make them resilient. Well accepted and appreciated children become more confident and strong in facing any obstacles in life. If they aren’t criticized for the way they are, they become more appreciative of themselves and do better in life.

Tip # 4 Determine Your Child’s Strengths and Help Them Develop Those Strength

Each child has his own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if your child is good at music or a craft, help develop it and don’t try to make him excel in math or sports. Helping your child know his strengths will promote resilience in letting him know that he excels in somethings.

I would love to hear about a time when your child has been resilient or a tip on how you’ve taught this important trait.

 

Our Children’s First Visit

While holding Mark’s hand and telling him about Western Rehab I felt him lightly squeeze my hand. Shocked and elated at his first movement in over six weeks I asked, “Did you just squeeze my hand?” I felt him squeeze it again. I grabbed the first nurse I saw and told her the good news. Skeptically she came into the room, took Mark’s hand and asked him to squeeze it. He did not. She looked at me and said sympathetically, it must have been a reflex without purpose. I knew differently.

When Dr. Hinchey did his morning rounds he said, “There is no change in Mark’s prognosis. He is still one point from being brain-dead and that point comes from his eye movement.”

“How can you say that? He just squeezed my hand.”

“If he can’t do it on command, it’s a reflex without purpose.”

Thinking, I’ve got to get Mark out of this negative environment, I asked, “Now that Mark’s red and white cell counts are getting in the normal range, how soon can we move him to Western Rehab?”

“I don’t know. We need to finish the treatment for his liver infection,” Dr. Hinchey said.

“Our children are out of school now and it’s hard to be this far from home. They ask me daily when they get to see their dad. When will that be possible?”

“They can come, but they will have to wear a mask over their mouth and wash up thoroughly before they come in the room because any infection would be deadly for Mark.”

It had been a long six weeks for me, but for a young seven and eight-year old child, it seemed like forever since they’d seen their dad.  They were anxious, but I was worried how their young minds would interpret the sight of their dad with all the tubes and equipment which kept him alive. I talked to the social worker about how I could prepare our children for their first visit.

“I can take them on a tour of the hospital first,” he said. “This will get them familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of the hospital. I can also show and tell them about the equipment which is helping their dad right now.”

That night I told the kids they would get a tour of the hospital and be able to see their dad tomorrow. They were excited, even though they knew he was hurt and he wouldn’t be able to talk to them. I talked to them about his special bed and equipment, but nothing could really prepare them for what they’d never seen before.

I’m sure the tour of the hospital helped, but Christopher and Katie were stunned when they walked into the room where their dad lay unconscious. At the first sight of him they stopped in their tracks and with unbelieving, widened eyes looked at him. The surgical masks they were required to wear in his room hid their opened mouths. Afraid to get any closer, they stayed just inside the doorway, speechless.

Katie recalls in her article written on June 17, 2014, Dad Creating Beauty After Tragedy, “My excitement shattered when I walked into his room. The man I once saw smash his finger with a hammer without shedding a tear lay helplessly unconscious. Tubes connected his lifeless body to machines. He was dependent on technology and the care of others. It was my first time seeing him vulnerable. I was scared. I recognized his face, but how could he be my dad? My dad was strong enough to lift me onto his shoulders so I could see parades over large crowds. My dad did sit-ups every night with his toes tucked under the couch as I sat on it and counted his sit-ups aloud. My dad killed spiders for me and read bedtime stories to me. I didn’t want to go near the lifeless body in the hospital bed.”

June 1991, first picture after the accident with the kids.

July 1991, first picture with the kids after the accident.

With all my heart and soul I wanted to make this better for Christopher and Katie. I knew they needed to see him to understand how hurt he really was and why he wasn’t home, but I disparately wanted to protect them from the worry.They were so innocent and I knew they’d be disappointed.

It was a Friday and my turn to stay overnight at the hospital, so my mom took the kids to spend the night at her house. I was constantly torn between Mark and the kids. I wanted and needed to be with each one, but it was impossible. No matter who I was with I was worrying about the other. I could hardly bear that we weren’t together as a family and had sixty miles separating us.

The small Ronald McDonald house which was close by the hospital parking lot became my home away from home. It had two bedrooms, one bath and living room complete with a couch, and reclining chair. The kitchen had a fridge, stove, a few dishes and utensils. In the beginning, I was in the basement of this home, but there was a plumbing issue so I had to move upstairs with the Call family who were from Idaho. Donna and Wayne Call were a little older than my parent’s and they had six kids with their youngest being close to my age. Wayne had a heart attack and after surgery he didn’t regain consciousness and was transferred to McKay Dee Hospital. Donna and I became close, despite our age difference. She was always at the hospital and her kids took turns bringing her needed items and staying overnight with her. I was given one bedroom and the Call family had the other. Each bedroom had a double bed plus a bunk bed in it, but with my broken collarbone I was more comfortable sleeping in the reclining chair. Sometimes my parents stayed there with me and on weeknights my brothers were there. The Call’s also had several family members coming and going and once in awhile it was such a full house they used sleeping bags on the floor in the living room. We got to know each other well over a seven week period of time. The Call’s made me feel part of their family. They would come to Mark’s room late at night to get me and to make sure I made it to the McDonald home safely. They were kind and thoughtful. I appreciated their friendship and we had a lot in common with our loved ones in critical condition. I was grateful for the comfort of this home which became a safe haven from the upset of the hospital. Amongst the turmoil and worrying about Mark as well as missing my own home and family I received the blessing of new friends and resilient children who quickly overcame their fear of seeing their dad.

Learning By Example

Watching You Grow

I thought Joyce Maynard’s quote went well with last Sunday Story, Dad Creating Beauty After Tragedy – Part II. Katie said, “My dad has taught me the keys to happiness through his example. He chooses to be happy by having a sense of humor, being productive, forgiving, grateful and maintaining hope.