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Just a thought… t

By Staff | Jun 22, 2012

By attending the Relay For Life last weekend in Rugby, it brought to mind the tremendous gift that caregivers provide to their loved ones. Not just with cancer, but for other serious illnesses, as well. They make great sacrifices in their own lives to support through a difficult time the person whom they love.

How many homes in this town alone, have an ailing man or woman with a loving spouse right beside them taking care of their every need? These are special people.

Of course, you would expect loving spouses to care for one another, yet no matter how much the caregiver wants to help, they often wear out themselves in the process.

Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is keeping yourself in good working order with a balance in the areas of physical, mental, and spiritual. Self-care is necessary. If a person takes care of the themselves, they will be strong to care for others.

I’m going to suggest that we as community members look for households, within our churches, our neighborhoods, a friend of a friend, or an acquaintance where there is a caregiver. Take over a supper dish, ask if you can sit with the ailing person while the caregiver runs errands, drop off a bouquet of garden flowers or a card of encouragement. If there are children in the house, ask if you can take the kids home with you for a couple of hours, let the caregiver use your lake cabin for one good night of sleep during the week, and organize willing neighbors to take turns sitting with the person who is ill. Random acts of kindness that take little from the giver can brighten the day of the one who is always caring for others.

When my friend, Lori, was dying from cancer, I had the privilege of spending time with her and her family in her final days of life. Lori was a trooper and held on much longer than her doctors expected. After all, she had a graduation to plan for her daughter and a few more things to teach her high school age son before she could let go. Although Lori wasn’t expected to live until graduation day, she managed to and then she got her daughter sent off to college in the fall and died the next day.

What got this family through this challenging time in there lives were the kindnesses of family, friends, and neighbors.

Lori’s bosses loaned Lori and Dave their car for the trips to Minneapolis for treatment because it got better mileage and was in better shape. Neighbors often supplied meals for the family. Lori’s friends went to visit her and rub her back and distract her from her pain. Others sat with Lori while Dave ran errands and got some work done. The community held a dinner and auction and raised money when the family was running out of money to pay the medical bills. Each person did one act of kindness until the family was surrounded by love.

One thing Lori, who had given much to many in her lifetime, had to learn was to accept kindnesses given to her. It was a struggle for her, even though she devoted herself to giving to others, receiving what she was offered didn’t seem quite right. A friend sat with her one day and just let her talk about what it was like to receive charity. The friend suggested to her that by accepting the charity, Lori was actually giving the other person a chance to do random acts of kindness. She looked surprised at the suggestion and then she smiled as she came to realize the truth of her friend’s suggestion. She began to have peace with receiving and she had certainly paid it forward with her own acts of kindness to others.

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