Monday, August 31, 2015


21.4 years x 365 days = 7,811 – 240 days of hospitalization = 7,571 days x 2 times a day = 15,142 times

15,142 is the approximate number of times my Mom has relied on someone to come to her home and get her in or out of bed over the last 21 years, since the car accident that resulted in her quadriplegia. 
This is a pretty sobering realization for me.  I have been that someone for some of those years.  But, not all or even most. 
I haven’t spent much time thinking about this because it’s not part of my daily life anymore.  It hasn’t been for 14 years.  But, I’m spending the weekend at my Mom’s house, as she broke her hip on Tuesday.  I’ve invited myself to be her house guest until I feel good about leaving again. 
As her guest, I’m around to observe some of these morning and nightly rituals that the faithful come to perform, and have performed over 15,000 times.  I’d forgotten how many little steps there are and how long they take. 
I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude and in awe of their fidelity.  Between five agencies and countless aides, eight of them have carried the bulk of these shifts.  My Mom can only remember one time when someone was scheduled and they didn’t come.  One time. 
The caregivers who have come over the years have given my mom a life of independence, free from the confines and endless halls of a long-term care facility.  They have allowed her children to live their own lives, too.  They do what I can no longer do easily or joyfully.  For me, it’s probably like anything else you have to do over a period of years without a choice.  If it was eating chocolate ice cream or jumping rope, I’d probably be okay without doing either, ever again.  It makes sense enough and doesn’t even feel bad to acknowledge it, until I’m sitting in a recliner blogging while someone else is taking care of my mom.  Like now.  (Thank you, Kathy!)
At any rate, there have been an army of women who have covered these 15,000+ shifts.  They remind me of soldiers who go to war for their country and fight to keep their buddy alive.  They show up, rain or snow, sleet or hail, early and late.  They work on Christmas and Easter and every day in between.  They know that if they “call in to work”, she (or whomever they’re serving) will spend an entire night in a wheelchair, or an entire day in bed, unshowered and unfed. 
Included in these 15,000+ shifts are well over 50,735 transfers (moving from one place to another).  [365days x 10years x 4transfers =14,600 + (365days x 9transfers x 11years) = 50,735 transfers]  This doesn’t even include outings, which were many, including 11 years without a handicapped accessible van. 
These women (and those like them) are the strongest women I know.  They routinely do the hardest work I’ve ever done, do it for multiple people daily for years on end, are underpaid, largely unappreciated, and happy to do it!
They are absolutely the most heroic group of women I’ve ever known. 
Of course, on the other side of their heroism is one just like them, but for different reasons.  While 15,000+ shifts and 50,000+ transfers have been divided among many on the caregiving side, there is one woman who has been the recipient of every. single. one.
Dear God of Those Who Wait and Those Who Come to Them,
Thank you for my Mom.  Thank you for the opportunity to be once again privy to her life at the outskirts of day.    Please strengthen her in body and spirit.  Thank you for the incredible women you have sent to her for over 21 years!  Thank you, especially, for those who come year, after year, after year.  Thank you for astounding numbers like 15,142.  Thank you for the grace and transformation that come from waiting, which enables patient acceptance of what is.  Those of us who witness it know the glory it gives to You!  Please bless all who have crossed my Mom’s threshold to care for her, especially the eight.  Please give them a double portion of all that is good.  Grant us all the grace to live with the generosity, mercy, gentleness, and love they model for us so beautifully.  Amen.      

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