Over the course of my career, my travels have taken me to a lot of places to experience different cultures, foods, entertainment and communities. While all of those places and experiences have been wonderful, there is no better place to go than back home. Recently, I had the opportunity to go “home” to visit my family, but my main purpose was to see my Aunt Lucy, who turned 95 last month and is the only remaining off spring of my father’s parents. That particular visit was good for my soul.
She is one of many examples of women in my family that has always represented to me what a woman, wife, mother and friend should be. She grew up with 7 other siblings including my father, in the difficult time of the Great Depression when times were hard, when you had to do a lot with little. The tenacity and endurance my family members learned in their upbringing laid a foundation of hard work, faith, family and caring for others. These values are at the core of my family. It is because of the experiences of my parents and my aunts and uncles, and the relationships that I had with them, that I am where I am today.
I was fortunate to visit with Aunt Lucy for a few hours while I was home. I also was able to spend some time with her sons, my cousins. It was a real pleasure to reminisce with all of them about days gone by. We talked about celebrations, achievements, losses of loved ones and hope for the family’s future.
Today, my Aunt Lucy lives at home with dementia. She has round-the-clock care from family and a home health provider. Taking a long walk down memory lane was especially meaningful for both of us, given her condition. She asked me at least ten times about my father, her brother, whom passed away in 1987. It gave us both a chance to remember and honor our family members, those that were so influential in our lives and the roles they played. My aunt has always had the most amazing, kind and caring spirit. She still has a light of inspiration around her, even at 95 years old and dealing with dementia.
In the past 30 years, my family has cared for aging or ill family members all too often. It is one of the many reasons I chose to join Caring Hearts seven years ago. I know first-hand the challenges and sometimes the stresses families face when loved ones are ill and can no longer care for themselves. I wanted to ensure that families all over the country have access to the exceptional care that Caring Hearts provides. We enable loved ones to stay in their roles, and leave the daily caregiving to hired professionals who are trained to deal with these circumstances. Simply put, we allow family to be just that: family. My visit with my Aunt Lucy fulfilled me and reaffirmed what I already knew: home is where the heart is and where you are loved, encouraged and supported.