Now and Forever

Convertible 2

June 2014, two men struggled to get Mark into our friends convertible, but it was a great ride and memory now. 

In just one moment, our life’s journey took a drastic change and now I can’t help but relate our life as before or after April 27, 1991. In my mind it’s like I have two filing cabinets, one holds memories of before and the other after the car accident. Much love is contained in each cabinet, however the two different lifestyles did changed our relationship. The one constant is as Carole King sings, “Now and forever, I will always think of you.”

I still miss the way things were in my before cabinet and enjoy reflecting on the files contained there. I have to smile at the possibility of my mind embellishing those twelve years of memories, because most of the files hold an easier and happier way of life.

Anniversaries have a way of making me reflect. Because it will be twenty-five years in just a few days, I realize my married life after the accident cabinet holds more than double the files of my before cabinet. To lift my spirit I’ve set my sights on writing about the positive aspects contained in my after cabinet, which I consider blessings.

I’m glad Mark and I survived the accident which could have taken both of our lives. I’m grateful our children weren’t with us when it happened. At the young ages of seven and eight, they appeared to be more resilient and accepting of our new lifestyle than they might have been if they were teenagers at the time. Their childlike belief that all would be well kept us working towards their expectations.

I’m thankful the accident happened before we moved instead of after. I’m grateful for the advice and insight of others to stop the sale of our home. This unfamiliar road would have been so much harder had we been attempting to get settled in a new house while seeking new friendships. I appreciate the love and support we felt from our Sandy neighborhood. The benefits of Mark returning home to a familiar place surrounded by familiar people proved to be immeasurable, especially with his short-term memory problem.

There are unexpected advantages to Mark’s memory issues, such as not recalling the pain and length of time in rehabilitation. I believe his poor short-term memory has saved him from depression. He is fun to be with and works hard to accomplish things which used to come easy. His example of patience, endurance and the constant expression of appreciation encourage me to do and be better.

We’re fortunate Mark regained consciousness after three months of being comatose and remembered the most valuable things in life—faith, family and friends. He retains his determination and quick-wit. He enjoys making people laugh and reminds me that bringing happiness to others brings joy to oneself. He teaches me what’s most important in life and encourages me not to worry about all the other stuff.

I appreciate of the wonderful people we’ve met since our accident and their positive examples. They are mentors who give me strength, courage and faith that I can succeed in my caregiving journey. I’m grateful for all those who have shared a part of their stories as guest authors on Uniting Caregivers.

We’re happy to live in a wheelchair accessible home which provides comfort and conveniences, making our life easier. We’re fortunate to share our home with my parents who are willing to help in every way they can.

We’re lucky to have friends who love and encourage us. Friends who made our move to Draper easier. They welcomed and helped us feel comfortable right from the start. We moved just five years after the accident and we were still adjusting to a new way of life. Their warm reception and support made our new pathway bright.

I’m privileged to have parents and siblings who are generous with love and service. We’re blessed they live close by and we can call on them at any time. If possible and needed, we know they’d come at a moment’s notice to assist in any way they could.

I’m fortunate to have the acceptance and love of Mark’s family and although they live in other states, we know of their concern and care for us. I’m thankful for cell phones, email and social media, which bridges the distance and keeps us connected.

I’m blessed to be a part of a large extended family where cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are involved in our lives. We cherish our relationship with each one and I’m grateful for their love and loyalty to family.

Looking at all these files of blessings, I realize our life has turned out just as it should for our own personal growth. Our journey may have taken an unthinkable turn on April 27,1991—one I wouldn’t have chosen, nor expected or could have prepared for. However, joy is found in the after the accident cabinet. I believe happiness can be now and forever because Mark is a part of me and I will always be with him.

Our Ultimate Goal

By sharing our stories, tips and/or thoughts  we get a look into each other’s hearts which helps us appreciate the unique challenges each one of us face. It also helps us realize we’re not alone and points out what we have in common.

I’m grateful for all the past and present guest authors on Uniting Caregivers who have helped me reach my ultimate goal of increasing love, patience, tolerance, care and understanding. If you’d like to  be a future guest author, that would be wonderful! I believe you have something we can benefit from. If you have a thought, tip or story you’re willing to share, I’d be happy to help you publish it. If it seems overwhelming and you don’t feel like you can do it, please know I’ll be there every step of the way. Let me know if you’re interested by leaving a comment in the box at the bottom of this page or by sending an email to


Thank you, Cally Johnson, Pamela Clark, Judy Coon, Silvia Caswell, Jamie Sorensen, Glenn Oliver, Cindy Oliver, Dianne Breitling, Julie Brown, Barbara Larsen, Deidre Pickering, Katie Ferguson, Ann McDougall, Eric Reynolds, Tim Gray, Laura Norfelt, Greg Norfelt, Rosanne Day, Chuck Ferguson, Neils Knudsen, Mark Wilson and our current guest author, Christine Scott. To revisit any one of their stories, type their name in the search bar on the home page and it will take you to that individual’s article or list of articles in some cases. I appreciate each of you sharing your unique challenges and wonderful tips which help us reach our goal of better understanding one another.

Six Traits of a Caregiver

CaregivingBeing a caregiver is not for everyone. The responsibilities such as bathing, dressing, feeding and overseeing the safety, physical and emotional needs of another person can be exhausting. Sounds a bit like parenting doesn’t it? Being a parent is one type of caregiving, but there are other types such as a professional who makes a living at it, or a family member, or a friend who are dedicated to help another. No matter what type of caregiver a person may be, there are common and important traits needed to perform caregiving duties successfully.

I was raised to be a caregiver. My parents gave care to their own parents and friends besides caring for their children. I learned from their example. However, I didn’t understand how hard it can be. I want to be clear that I don’t think less of anyone who hires a professional caregiver or caregiving facility as long as they don’t abandon their loved one. I know in some situations hiring a professional is the best and may be the only solution. I acknowledge that some are not physically, mentally, or emotionally able to care for another. By knowing the traits of a caregiver you can recognize if it’s for you and if it’s not, this information will help you find a great caregiver for your loved one.

  1. Empathy. Helps identify vulnerable, scared, confused and uncomfortable feelings. By understanding, you can calm those fears and create a sense of trust. A personal understanding and connection is vital to giving care.
  2. Compassion. Provides the energy and drive needed to sustain you through difficult tasks or while working with a difficult individual.  It also gives you a voice of encouragement and the ability to calm and reassure.
  3. Patience. People being cared for take longer than usual to complete simple tasks or routines. Understanding the limitations of those you care for can help reduce tension in the environment. Good caregivers recognize capabilities and encourage self-sufficiency while still providing necessary levels of care and attention. Having realistic expectations about what an individual is capable of can help you provide the appropriate care. Sometimes their lack of ability can lead to frustration and lashing out. You must be able to separate yourself from potential anger and resentment and not take the situation personally. Being patient means you understand there may be changes in plans or things don’t move as quickly as you’d hope for.  Also, hearing the same old story or question multiple times can become stressful.  Knowing when and how to appropriately “take a moment” to prevent losing patience is essential.
  4. Attentiveness. It is important to be aware of the needs and the changes that are taking place. Being attentive means being a good listener and noticing when there are emotional or physical changes in the personIt’s a bonus to have a creative mind that can and come up with inventive ways to deal with problem situations or overcome resistance.
  5. Composure.  Caregivers often deal with bodily fluids, wound care, bathing and grooming tasks. A good caregiver does not shy away from delicate situations and works to help retain a sense of dignity. Many tasks associated with providing personal care are unpleasant for the caregiver and recipient alike. It can completely change the dynamics of the relationship with a spouse or son/daughter taking on parental tasks. Handling stressful or uncomfortable situations with confidence and grace is an important skill for caregivers. Also, knowing when humor is or is not appropriate helps. A good caregiver doesn’t chide or shame regardless of age or circumstance.
  6. Compromise. In a home or facility care setting, caregivers are bound to encounter other family members with differing ideas on how best to care for a loved one. Conflicts are inevitable. Sometimes you have to compromise to diffuse tense situations. It’s important to thoughtfully focus on what’s needed most to manage disagreements in an effective and positive way.

Being responsible for the care and well-being of another is a highly committed role and is also rewarding.