Tethers

As my Mom continues to heal from a complicated surgical procedure, soon I will be stepping into a new role as care partner. There is so much to learn and I find myself surprised at every turn. As my place in her care begins to evolve I can already see how, until you are actually in it, it’s really impossible to understand the whole dynamic from an outside perspective. 

As I step into this new role, I have been blessed by the presence of others who came to this before me and have offered support. The words of those who have been down this path are invaluable. I’m deeply grateful for all of those lovely humans who have shared their experience, strength and hope with me. 

As it happens, a dear friend has just launched a new website as a resource for caregivers and care partners. Gretchen wrote her story of the years she spent caring for her mother in the home she grew up in. Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver, will be published this fall by She Writes Press. While every story is different, we all benefit from a shared sense that we are not alone on this journey. 

You can read about her story on this beautiful new website here.

There are a lot of nuggets here. Resources, help, encouragement … it’s like a secret little box of magic hidden under the bed. I will likely share of my own experience as well, because as the days go on it becomes clear that “you just don’t know what you just don’t know”. Another dear friend reminds me often that we can’t see around corners and never have I known that to be more true than it is right now *

This website is worth a bookmark. A place you can return to over and over again, whether this is a journey you are just beginning, a path you have traveled already or a seatbelt for the rollercoaster ride ahead. We can’t see around those corners but we can do our best to tether ourselves to those things designed to hold us. 

https://gretchenstaebler.com/

This is one of those things. 

If you sign up and subscribe, you’ll get to read the first couple chapters of her soon-to-be published book and I promise it will leave you longing to hear the rest of this story. 

It’s been a bumpy ride here and I’m not sure what’s ahead, but I know that I am honored to be able to step into this place of helping Mom heal. I look forward to sharing time with both Mom and Dad as we adjust to an ever-changing landscape with us tethered firmly in the NOW. 

Together ❤

22 Comments on “Tethers

  1. I have walked this path you are now on… at the time (July 1999) I was clueless where the path might lead me, and how swift I would arrive at that sad and lonely destination. This is a path we all tread, in one way or another… either with parents, or siblings, or even with children… and although there are often guideposts, I failed to see them, except in the rear-view mirror.

    I had no clue Mom was in as precarious a situation as she was at the time, so I nearly beheaded a young ER doc who asked me “Does your Mother have a DNR?” when Mom was first 911’d to Arlington Hospital. That was in late May. She stabilized and came home in early June … a month later, she was back in the hospital.

    I hope Beth gets stronger every day, and I have been praying for that outcome since you first told us of her condition. And yes, no one can see around corners. But what we can do, is be present every moment. For the wild ride, for the peaks and valleys, for the good days and scary days, and for the long nights. For a joyful homecoming…* It is, as you have called it, a rollercoaster. But hang on! We are all praying for good outcomes and Bon, you are not alone…*

    • I can say with certainty that none of us could have predicted what has happened over the course of the last sixteen days. A rollercoaster, indeed. Thanks Mare, for sharing your Mom’s story. I felt so lucky to have met her and had her for a pen-pal. I know the bond you two shared. Mom has quite a road ahead, but I will be in constant gratitude that I can help her on this journey back to health. I couldn’t do it without my “tribe”. Thank you so much for always being there when I’ve reached out these past couple weeks. You have been the strongest tether ❤ I have never felt alone.

  2. Bonnie this is a beautiful post and I just love it that your instinct is to find the gratitude in what you have. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I made arrangements to take two months from work to be with her in the end, and help her through in whatever way I could. The day she asked me to come, I dropped everything and went. When I arrived she already had lost most of her ability to speak. She died 5 days later. I was playing catch up the whole time, not adjusting to the changes fast enough to appreciate her as she was, or to help enough. It is easy not to realize where your mom is at, because she’s your MOM. So keep that in mind. Be grateful for every day, which I know you will be. You are so wonderful to be there for your parents.

  3. I will always remember the time that I spent with my father as he braved the trek through cancer. Each week I created lesson plans for school, taught three days and left from school in King County to drive to Eastern Washington to help dad Wednesday evening through Sunday morning. He taught me how to keep his tomatoes growing and how to ripen them. In between visits to the doctor and putting family photos together we also canned pears. The weekly trips lasted for six weeks. Family Medical Leave was a gift of time spent together. Seven years later I took family medical leave to help my mother in Boise when she was also diagnosed with cancer. The days spent with her were another priceless gift of time. The small tasks, finding a favorite picture, helping her send cards and letters to the grandchildren, sorting through memorabilia, and planning meals built priceless memories. Bonnie Rae I will be thinking of you and your parents.

    • Thanks for writing, Keitha. These complications have thrown us all for a loop, but as Mom continues to get stronger I look forward to helping both of my parents navigate this new normal. I’m lucky I get to help them and it’s brought us all closer as we make the march back to health.

  4. Yes, so wise, those tenuous tethers will pull you back to earth again and again. All the connections you’ve made through your huge heart, your curiosity, wisdom, and energy, will keep you on the necessary path even as the details try to send you out of orbit. I agree, Gretchen’s website and her experience will be a gift to many, and the first chapters have me longing for more. Sending strength and light in these darker times.

    • Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person alive. I have had a hard couple of weeks and every time I reached out, someone was there to gather me in. So glad for your grounding presence and I look forward to sharing and learning on Gretchen’s great new site. Thanks for being here.

  5. How fortunate your mother is to have you as part of her care team. This resource looks amazing. I helped care for my mom for 17 years, after a massive (and early) stroke left her with multiple disabilities when I was 28. Juggling responsibilities was challenging, since I had two young children, a full-time job in education, and a shaky marriage that didn’t survive, but I also had lots of support from other family members. Please know that you, your mother, and the rest of your family are in my heart. And if you ever want to talk, just drop me a note. ❤

    • So nice to hear from you, Connie ❤
      I am really lucky for my connection to Gretchen and grateful for her willingness to create this wonderful place. We’re taking it all a day at a time and I can’t seem to escape the mantra: more will be revealed. I think we all will get to know ourselves and one another, better ❤ I’ll write you!

  6. It can be some of the hardest days you may ever have, but certainly the most satisfying days you’ll always look back on. You will grow in ways you could never imagine and gain perspective you don’t have (and never considered). It’s all new and yet as old time…the most natural thing to do! Hugs and kisses to all of your family.

    • I have known the exhaustion already, but I’ve also seen how loving an act it can be when I settle into a new normal. We will figure it out together and for that I am so grateful.

  7. Good luck on the the tough road ahead of you, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing a site to help others in the similar circumstances.

    • Thanks so much. I think I’ll start seeing this as the sdvrnture it is. We’ve already shared so many meaningful moments. We will grow our relationship right along with our new normal.

  8. Thank you for posting this resource Bonnie—and good thoughts to you and yours in this time… so good to be able to care for those who cared for us. 🦋

    • You’re welcome, Bailey. It really is such a comfort to know there are people out there building such meaningful things on their experience. Hope we can share it far and wide and can all contribute ideas and stories to help grow the audience. There are a lot of us !

  9. I’m glad to see you here, Michael. I visited your website, what gorgeous photos. I noticed you signed on to follow my old website, and was looking for a way to let you know that the Daughter on Duty site is inactive. I hope you will subscribe to the new site Bonnie Rae has highlighted, for companionship and resources in your walk with your father; and/or my nature adventure blog (and more) at http://www.writingdownthestory,com. Hope to see you again! Gretchen

  10. Thank you, Bonnie Rae. You are dear. I’m holding your family close as you step onto this path. I may well be both the hardest and most important thing we do in our lives. You are not alone. 💜

    • Thank you for helping me navigate. Your website is a wonderful resource and I’ll help share and help grow it. Brava to you. For me to be able to be here for my folks is everything. I’m honored. (And tired, too)

    • Hi Michael, seems we are living parallel lives. Thanks for writing. It really IS so good to know we aren’t alone.

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