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Caregiver Story: A Natural-Born Caregiver

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
06/24/15  8:24 PM PST
caregiver story

Caregiver Story: A Natural-Born Caregiver

Caregiver Story Spotlight | Shield HealthCare 2014 Caregiver Story Contest

Special thanks to Amy H. for sharing her beautiful caregiving story…

Caregiving comes naturally to caregivers. The actions can be taught, but not the compassion. Caregiving is a gift and not everyone has this gift. I’ve been a caregiver for most of my life. As a young child, I often accompanied my mother as she cared for elderly family members. Soon, our family would be the caregivers of our grandfather, our father’s father. He was sick, dying from the ravages of advanced throat cancer. I remember us kids, often fighting over who would get to feed grandpa through his feeding tube. We’d even fight over who would care for his wounds on his throat from the cancer. We were each honored and happy to take care of him.

I learned so much in that year or so of taking care of our grandfather. I learned about family, compassion, love, and the art of taking care of those we call family.

Eventually, at seventeen I became a nursing assistant. I worked in several nursing homes over the years. Each resident or patient that I cared for, I would come to love. I treated them as I would my own family members, with love, compassion, and dignity. I often felt honored to be someone caring for my residents. I felt compassion and I felt sympathy and empathy. I was grateful to be part of one’s journey through the end of their life.

In nursing homes we have many people who are not ill but the majority of my residents that I worked with, were sick and often dying. I felt love for everyone I cared for. I also felt as if God had chosen me for this job. I felt my childhood experiences had laid the groundwork for this passion of mine, for caregiving.

Eventually I would become a wife and mother to three precious children. I was their only caretaker after my divorce. It wasn’t easy and there were special needs to deal with daily. Although difficult, the caring for my own children was one of the most rewarding times in my life. I learned so much and I had to “adjust my sails with the wind,” depending on what was happening. There is nothing like caring for your own child.

You see, for me, the greatest rewards of caregiving are those we cannot see or hold.

Caregivers feel! We feel love, raw and honest. We feel honor, because we “get to” take care of others. We feel compassion because it connects us to those we’re caring for. We feel belonging because our caregiving is needed and wanted. We comfort those in their time of need. We feel special because our caregiving is a gift and we give that gift away every day. We feel loss, when residents die, when family dies, or when one’s condition takes a turn for the worse. We feel gratitude for our abilities to care for and to witness that which is life.

Dying is the end of one’s life but still always part of everyday life when you’re a caretaker. One’s journey onward, after death, is one of the most sacred times. To be part of that – even as caretakers – is a very powerful feeling. Often we hear of the beautiful stories of the caretakers to the dying. Those stories are the dance, the lifeblood of why we are caregivers.

We’re caregivers because we are love. We are family. We are professionals in the caregiving fields. We are chosen ones. We’re chosen because we honor the many roles of caregiving, of life, of illness, of death, and of LOVE.

 

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