I had intended to leave home over the Easter weekend 2012. It was to be my second two-day respite after returning to live and care for Mom five and half months earlier.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted; I desperately needed to get away. I was counting on the person who was soon to be in complete legal control of Mom’s care, and who lived just a few miles down the road, to be close by in case Caroline, our angel care partner, needed support while I recharged my batteries.
But as many care partners learn to their dismay, relying on others often leads to disappointment, anger, resentment, and the feeling you’re drowning. I was both furious and at a loss when I discovered the back-up I had hoped for would not materialize because the person in question was going to Mexico on vacation. If I didn’t get a break, I would suffer a break – I knew that for sure. I decided to cancel my away time, but also have Caroline come for a “tag-team” weekend. It was the best solution I could come up with under the circumstances.
As many things do, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Over the weekend, Caroline, Mom and I shared some lovely moments including an Easter egg hunt during which we hid, found and ate chocolate eggs (not necessarily in that order!). I filmed and photographed some of the fun, which reminded me of my childhood. I am truly thankful to have these memories, though I still sometimes struggle with anger toward family members who failed Mom and me, and worse, actively vilified me and, incredibly, did their best to make my life miserable. I’ve heard the same kinds of sad stories from other carers worldwide — a situation that makes being a care partner even more difficult than it already is.
But I don’t want to dwell on that “bad karma.” There’s no use being bitter and twisted because of someone else’s unconscionable behaviour. All it does is give them more power, which is of course what they seek. Instead, I want to celebrate having brought my mother joy and myself healing while we lived with her dementia. The road was extraordinarily difficult for both of us, but it was worth it in the end, and I have no regrets.
I hope you like this three-minute video of our 2012 Easter egg hunt. If you are a care partner to someone who lives with dementia, I also hope you are inspired to create moments like these filled with life, living and the people you love.