page contents Google

Momma’s Last Birthday Present



Have you been a baby boomer caregiver?

It’s part of the sandwich generation.

I don’t mean a visitor who holds hands and reads, though that’s as important as anything. Human contact with the aged, the infirm, and dying isn’t measured by machines but no one doubts the power.

I mean 24/7 family caregiving where you question your commitment, where others question your commitment, but you keep going. 

That was me for five years with my father in law. I did it because of the toll on my mother in law driving to assisted care, rehabs, and hospitals.

I did it because my father in law once said, “I’m afraid to go sleep because I don’t know where I’ll wake up.”

His doctor also said he had maybe two days to live. He was wrong. But I stuck it out and saw him through to the end.

Years later my Mom took another turn for the worse.

After illness, many surgeries, and recent falls, her end was coming faster and faster.

She had more visitors than ever and seemed glad to have them.

During one of my visits she was in the living room chair with severe pain. It was horrible to witness. My caregiving skills were sidelined because her care team wanted professional, certified caregivers. I didn’t blame them.

My sort of care isn’t for everybody. It’s more like a sports practice with drills and activity. It’s also not sweet and darling. Instead it’s results driven and hard. You’d be surprised how much sick people are able to do if given the chance.

But this was a hands off affair and I respected that decision.

My Mom’s agony prompted another visitor to say, “We’ve got to do something for her. I can’t sit and watch.”

From my experience, and Mom’s load of meds, I figured the problem was digestive. My father in law had similar symptoms. A Fleet’s enema usually did the trick with him. I’d become a pro administering the Fleet’s, but this wasn’t one of those times. A certified caregiver would be in the next day and they’d go from there.

That didn’t change the mood in the room with my Mom in such extreme discomfort. We all decided a hot water bottle would help. Hot water bottles always help, so we went to the store to buy one. It was near the enema supplies. I picked up a few Fleets in case the next day caregiver needed one.

Back at my Mom’s house things hadn’t changed. When she decided she felt like using the restroom I made a proposal. I said it was her birthday (it was) and a Fleets might ease the pain.

She agreed. And it all worked out.

If you’ve read this far, rest assured, the ick-factor of bodily functions goes away in the face of agony. You do whatever it takes to help if you’ve got any heart at all. I do and I did.

Of course my efforts spread like wildfire from one family member to the next, as in, “He did what?”

Since that day I’ve spoken to several on different occasions and off handedly say, “Did you hear about Grandma’s birthday?”

It’s almost too embarrassing to answer. But they do.

I said, “Since then I’ve decided that’s the present I’m giving everyone on their birthday.”

So far no one is having another birthday.


About David Gillaspie
%d bloggers like this: