We talk about the caregiver and the life they lead, the work they do, and the challenges they overcome. But, who is the caregiver? How many times do they become known as the caregiver instead of by their name. How often they become known for their tireless work, but not for who they are. My mother and father are a prime example of this. They do their work, caring for others, day in and day out, but they have names. Denise and Larry. They are human, they are people, they feel, they hurt, and they had dreams and goals. They used to have a beautiful marriage based on love and passion. It was stable and strong. They are now seen by the world as the caregivers.
Denise had a hard life full of abuse growing up. She was beat down by the people who should have lifted her up, including her father, the man she cares for today. She fought through her own mental illnesses for years, and our family nearly fell apart, but she found an inner strength to overcome. She has had many surgeries, and as she enters her sixth decade of life, she aches. She has many conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis that cause consistent pain. She has serious stomach problems that interfere with her life on a daily basis. But, she is the caregiver for others. Even on a cold day, when her joints ache and it is excruciating for her to get out of bed, she forces herself to get up. She is a person who hurts, but others just expect she will continue because she is the caregiver.
Denise had a dream to have a career one day. She would have loved to go back to school, and if she would have been able to, she may be able to help now that her husband is unemployed, but she devoted her life to caring. Everyone in the family said she could do it because she didn’t have a job, and now when she wishes she had that fulfillment and could help, the family who said she could do it has turned a blind eye because she is “just” the caregiver. Her dreams were set aside, and her heart aches for what could have been, while others get to have personal fulfillment, she speaks to me of never being able to have her own life. Denise is a beautiful, loving person, with unfulfilled dreams, and a lot of pain. She is a caregiver, but also a human being.
Larry worked hard his whole life to build a bright future and retirement. He worked for his family, served in the military, and worked his way up into management in various businesses. He found success in director and VP roles, then became a caregiver with Denise. He didn’t have a major role at first as he still worked full-time, but after the recession when he lost his job, one challenge after another hit him. He is also at retirement age, and this makes it more difficult to find a job despite his incredible resume. He is now working alongside Denise, but all of his work for over 40 years to save money for retirement has been lost due to the recession and the money lost on their house. They live a very different life now.
Larry is an incredible man who feels his life that he worked for has been stolen. He gives to caregiving each day, and worries about not having health care. He struggles with the fact that he has been unemployed for so long. Larry and Denise both helped to support and help many of the family members who have turned their backs on them now. They have given advice, their home, and money, but now that they are suffering, they are alone. These amazing people are human beings and incredible caregivers. People assume caregivers can just keep going, and people move on with their goals and dreams, but seem to forget, caregivers have goals and dreams too. They have had to sacrifice, and it would be nice if others could view them for the truly giving and loving people they are. This is how humanity is reclaimed, by recognizing it in the people who give so much.