Allow me to begin by saying that I love my mom dearly—she is everything to me. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and has been living with me as the disease has progressively taken her mind hostage. Like many people that become caregivers unintentionally (I’ve never had a strong medical inclination to say the least), caring for my mom has tested limits I didn’t know that I had. It can wear on a person in every imaginable way, and I often felt like I was failing my mother and myself.
I often felt alone, and I was afraid that I was the first (and only) person to feel this way. Much like when I have a new flu symptom I don’t recognize, or song lyrics I can’t quite remember, I took to the internet to see if a quick search could diagnose/solve my problems. It may sound silly, but I was surprised to find that I was far from alone—and definitely not the only one feeling this way. There have even been studies done (like this one here) that statistically prove the toll being a family caregiver can take.
Armed with this knowledge, I finally felt comfortable sharing my feelings with my neighbor. She does about a million things all the time, including leading a local troupe of girl scouts. No matter how busy she is, she always takes the time to listen to me (without thinking I’m crazy) and encourage me. After venting to her, I felt like I’d set myself free from the confines I’d gradually placed myself while caring for mom. I thanked her for truly listening to me (per the usual) and promised her a loaf of homemade sourdough bread (my standard payment for her psychiatric-like services) and left it at that.
A week later, I received a knock on my door. Standing on my porch was my neighbor and a few of the girls in her troupe—was it cookie season already?? As it turns out, the girls were there to give me a break—an entire hour!—while they kept an eye on mom and cleaned up the house. They told me to go to a movie, go shopping, or go get a new book (my personal indulgence). I was in a bit of happy-shock, but my neighbor assured me that this was helping the girls with their service badges. They came by every week for a few months.
They all asked to remain anonymous, and I’ll respect that, but I do want to share the kindness of both my neighbor and her troupe of amazing young ladies. They gave me something that I can’t quantify, and I’m forever grateful to them for that. I hope that by sharing this story, those of you out there who may be facing the same struggles will not hesitate to reach out and ask for help. I often look to this page on the Kindness Blog for a quick pick-me-up. Sometimes I just need that extra push.
by Madison Hill
Madison Hillis a freelance writer with the most beautiful daughters in the world. When she’s not ruling (yes, totally ruling) the Bingo! scene, you can find her scrapbooking and making sourdough pancakes.