Like many of us I’ve struggled mightily through this quarantine. Aside from walking in my neighborhood almost daily, I’ve left my house in my car a total of 7 times in the 54 days since I began teleworking on March 20th. My journeys were three times to the Post Office, twice to see my Mom and twice to the grocery store resulting in a grand total of 12 miles on my car (which is less than one way to work).
At home I’ve kept a journal of of my days since the lockdown. I’ve read the Bible daily, put up shelves and built a bookcase and a table, made all my presentations virtual and organized every part of my living space, including the carport and my shed and sent Kendal homework assignments.
While that was all great for ME, I hadn’t really done anything for anyone else and that fact added to the guilt I was feeling about how much I have in my life when others have so little (which I posted about on Facebook).
A couple of weeks ago when my order of the 2nd edition of Refreshment for the Caregiver’s Spirit arrived I decided to put 100 copies of them aside to give to caregivers to cheer them up during this pandemic. I signed them and sent them to folks I’ve met over the last six years I’ve been giving presentations across the country and to a a few nursing homes I’ve interacted with in the past. The reaction to the books has been overwhelming from the folks on the front lines of this disease. They’ve all called it a Blessing!!
One of those Blessings turned into even more Blessings. One of the books I mailed was to Karen Seay, one of my blog followers I met through fellow blogger Paul Roberts Abernathy. Last year when Karen learned I was coming to Minneapolis she volunteered to pick me up at the airport, took me on a tour and for a wonderful lunch, sat through my presentation and took me back to the airport that night. I had added a photo of the restaurant Karen took me to in the new edition of the book and she was so surprised when she received her book and saw that photo that will always remind us of our time together.
Karen sent me a note sharing that she wanted to in turn buy ten copies of my book to give to the staff at the nursing home where her Mom spent 14 years! Talk about spreading the Blessing!
Having only seen my Mom twice has been by far the hardest part of this crisis, given that I typically see my Mom almost daily after work. I just wanted to give her a hug! My sister Kris sent me two gorgeous photo pillows, one for me and one for Mom and hugging that pillow has helped me so much! After crying a lot I took Mom’s pillow to her and got to see her enthusiastic reaction to it. Several others saw the pillows in my Facebook post and ordered them for their loved ones! More Blessings!
Mom’s dedicated caregivers have worked tirelessly juggling all of their required tasks AND the new task of video calling loved ones a few times a week so they can speak with the residents. I needed to do something for them…. but what??? The answer came when Mom’s Stimulus check arrived, which I had not been expecting. I split the check between her caregivers. There was joyful screaming and crying when they received their gifts as if they’d hit the lottery!! No one deserves that gift more than they do.
On Mother’s Day I sent gift cards to 50 mothers who have been influential in my life over the last 50 years some of them from way back in my life. One of those women was Colette who has Blessed me mightily over the last four years. I met Colette when I spoke to the members of the Virgin Island Caregivers Program in St Croix six weeks after Tim died in 2016. She asked me what I missed most about Tim. I told her I missed his daily text messages. From that day forward, including today, Colette has sent me an inspirational text message! She was so shocked to receive her gift card, as she didn’t realize how much her texts have Blessed me! It occurs to me that we often forget to Bless those who have Blessed us!
Until at least September I’ve lowered my fees for my presentations and books so I can reach even more people and my calendar is filling quickly. Earlier today I gave my Joy of Caregiving (even during a pandemic) for Johns Hopkins Medicine. The hosts, moderator and Chaplain all raved about the presentation and the audience was joyful and participatory! Hopefully we can all hang in there as caregivers til this is over and right now I feel the Blessings of my many caregiver networks!
This Friday is the last day of my current grad school security management course which started right as the world was shutting down. I wondered how focused my students and I would be during this term given that like me many of them work in some facet of homeland security or are in the military. The course evaluations opened yesterday and students usually always wait until the last minute to complete them if they do so at all. The evaluations I’ve received thus far are stunning. The students mentioned what an amazing professor I am and how I’ve given them such a great outlet from the virus and taught them so much with my energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. I didn’t feel very focused at times but I’m glad to know I’ve done my job well.
I’ll be glad when this is over like everyone else but I don’t want to go back to “normal” either. I want to continue to send anonymous lunches to the nursing homes and the hospital near my house or some other gesture that shows others how much their work means to us, just as Kim and Kendal surprised me with a bag of homemade meals last week!! So many people have inspired me with how they’ve helped others during the crisis and I hope we don’t forget how awesome it is to spread the Blessings around without spreading COVID-19.