City Social Magazine

JUL-AUG 2017

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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16 r e a d u s o n l i n e a t w w w . c i t y s o c i a l . c o m kanopy offers one of the most unique and compelling collections of films on the planet. Films range from documentaries and indie films to foreign films and must-see classics. Hundreds of new films are available each month. Viewers can stream more than 26,000 films. ALL FREE ONLINE WITH YOUR LIBRARY CARD www.ebrpl.com/DigitalLibrary 225.231-3750 Christie Gabour Atwood is a speaker, trainer and author. Her humor book, In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands, is available at bookstores, online and wherever books of questionable literary value are sold. Her business books are available, too, but you wouldn't want to take advice from her after reading this column, would you? For daily silliness and insights, follow Christee at Facebook.com/ unCommonSense101 or through the links on her website at Christee.biz. Life's Lumps Story and photo by Christee Gabour Atwood Not My Funniest Column My fourteen-year journey as a caregiver to my parents ended in May. It was simultaneously the most difficult and rewarding experience of my life. Mom braved her way through 11 years of Alzheimer's and amazed me every day through her last breath on December 14, 2014, at the very moment that a Christmas parade passed by her window. I'm pretty sure she decided it was a parade for her. She always knew how to make an exit. Daddy stayed with half a heart for a few more years, continuing to do volunteer work, never missing an opportunity to vote or complain to the priest about the hard pews at church, and then deciding to exit at the age of 103 after a brief illness. He passed in his own bed, surrounded by all his children at 9:09 a.m. on Mother's Day. As we stood around his bed, the overhead light in the room starting flashing off and on. Obviously he and Mom were excited about the reunion. And so, this is not my funniest column ever. It is, instead, a wish to share some of the lessons I've learned over these past 14 years with those of you who are going through the same experience. And, hopefully, it will remind you that you are not alone. When you think you're going crazy, you're not alone. When you think that there are no such things as "normal" or "fun" or "future", you're definitely not alone. We all go through that. But we are here. Reach out to others and ask for help. And when you are a survivor of the hardest gift you'll ever give another soul, remember to share your lessons learned with others. They're out there, feeling alone too. TIPS FOR CREATIVE CAREGIVING From Christee Gabour Atwood, Caregiving Survivor Don't worry about what people think. If she wants to wear a tutu, just make sure that yours is a coordinating color. Accept that every minute is a new reality. If you're the mom now, savor the role. If you're the best friend, that's even better. Laugh, sing, and play together whenever possible. Get happy meals for the toys. Don't correct. Join in the rewriting of history. Cry in the shower when you need to. And you will need to. Realize that perfect hygiene is unrealistic. Just keep a garden hose handy. Let go of the battles with family. Accept that they are in their own journeys of coping and grief. Welcome help. Don't let yourself fall into the martyr trap. An appropriate response to an invitation is not, "I'll be fine. Go on without me. Cough, cough…" Share the victories. And share the failures. Share your shoulder. Share your fears. Try a support group. Those folks understand. Forgive yourself. You'll mess up everything at least once. Probably twice. Maybe 27 times. Recognize a lesson learned and try, try again. *************** Ruth Bryan Gabour, James A Gabour Sr. and Christee Gabour Atwood

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