Today I’m excited to introduce you to a very special lady, Linda Brendle. A family caregiver for fifteen years, Linda has lived the joys and struggles of caring for loved ones. In her new book, A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos, Linda shares wit and wisdom learned on their journey. You’ll enjoy this guest post by Linda. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway being held here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d3e9352/
Caregivers and Heroes | by Linda Brendle
A hero is defined as a person who is typically identified with good qualities–one who is admired for courage or noble qualities or is the main character in a book, play or movie. A caregiver is defined as a family member or paid helper who regularly takes care of a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person. In many cases, the hero and the caregiver are the same person.
Heroism often involves acts of courage. Facing a life of caring for a child with cerebral palsy who will never walk or talk or learn to care for himself takes a different kind of courage than facing the bullets of an enemy, a kind of courage that puts careers, relationships, plans, privacy, and personal lives on hold. Caring for a parent facing the ravages of Alzheimer’s and old age requires the courage to watch helplessly as a loved one slips away, one ability at a time, one memory at a time.
Jim is my older brother, and one of the things he loves about being older is being a grandpa. He has eight grandchildren, and loves them all dearly, but Kyle is special. Jim was at the hospital when Kyle was born–when he began having seizures–when the doctors examined and tested and announced that he had cerebral palsy. Kyle is now a teenager, and through the years, Jim has been one of his caregivers, spending as much time with him as possible. Jim has never been afraid of or put off by the messiness of loving Kyle. He dresses him, bathes him, moves him from car to wheelchair to bed, feeds him, always with a good deal of teasing, but also with gentleness and caring.
Aunt Fay is a courageous woman. At a time when she and Uncle Dean were beginning to enjoy the benefits of an empty nest, she took in her widowed mother and spent the next decade caring for the woman who gave her life. Like all heroes, she didn’t count the cost of sleepless nights, cold meals, or missed vacations but rather did what needed to be done for someone who could not help herself. When Aunt Fay could no longer care for Granny Hagan in her home, she chose a suitable care facility and continued to fight for her through the web of red tape and the bureaucracy of aging in our modern society.
Becoming a hero or a caregiver is not something one plans to do. Heroism is often thrust on a person, but caregiving sometimes creeps up on you. Mom began showing signs of memory loss in her mid-seventies. At first it was more a source of irritation than anything else, but after several years, it began causing problems, especially when Dad started exhibiting some of the same symptoms. I lived close and dropped in often for a visit, so it seemed natural to check on the freshness of the food in their refrigerator or the cleanliness of their bathrooms. Gradually I began accompanying them on doctors’ visits and supervising their daily medications, and eventually they moved in with me. That’s when Aunt Fay and Jim became my personal heroes. She offered wise advice from her own experiences, cried and prayed with me through many crises, and reassured me when I second guessed my decisions. Later, when I reached critical mass and called Jim to say I can’t do this anymore, he picked up the reins and stepped in as Mom and Dad’s primary caregiver.
Like heroes, caregivers are admired for their courage in the face of adversity and the noble character that causes them to handle ignoble tasks with grace and love. Caregivers may never be the main character in a book, play or movie, but they are definitely the main characters–and the heroes–in the lives of those in their care.
After 15 years as a family caregiver, Linda began writing to encourage, inspire and amuse other caregivers. She loves to travel and since retiring has traveled mostly by motorcycle and RV. She and her husband live in a small East Texas town where she gardens, writes and attends church.
Sometimes reality really bites. Alzheimer’s has wrapped Mom’s brain into knots, vascular dementia has attacked Dad, and, instead of carefree retirees, we have become caregivers. Regardless, dreams die hard, and we somehow stumbled into the purchase of a forty-foot motor home. That’s when all four of us set out on this seven-week trek across sixteen U.S. states. Now, Dad stopped-up the toilet again, Mom wet her last pair of clean jeans, and David just announced that he was hungry. My head is beginning to pound, and I know this isn’t going to be the easygoing retirement we’d imagined for ourselves.
Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving.
Whether you’re looking for an inspirational story to help teach you how to “let go and let God,” considering becoming the caregiver for one of your own parents, or are just looking for an entertaining travel book, this story is sure to strike a tender nerve.
Release Date: July 1st, 2014
About Anaiah Press:
Anaiah Press is a Christian digital-first publishing house dedicated to presenting quality faith-based fiction and nonfiction books to the public. Our goal is to provide our authors with the close-knit, hands-on experience of working with a small press, while making sure they don’t have to sacrifice quality editing, cover art, and marketing. Books will begin to be released in digital formats beginning in Summer 2014. www.anaiahpress.com