Care-giving is part of the human condition. Most of us care for someone in their life—a child, an older parent, or even a sibling or an in-law. Being responsible for another can be demanding and daunting, but we are often surprised by its benefits.
Cathy Hanscom, Medford
I've never done long-term care, but I took care of my mom and helped when my dad was sick. It brings you all closer and teaches you how valuable family is. It helps show how precious life is. You should enjoy every minute you've got and not waste it.
Catherine Coulson, Ashland
I was a longtime caregiver, but my mom lived in southern California, so for about six years I traveled back and forth every two to three weeks and arranged for long- term care in her home. The stress was not being able to be there most of the time and the joy was in knowing she was well cared for. I went down on my day off and made huge batches of soup and grocery shopped. I'm glad I had that time with her.
Deborah Heatherstone-Szantos, Ashland
I had to uproot my family to move from my home in Oregon to California and live with my parents again. My fourth child was born in my mom's home just before she died. I dealt with the stress by being in the moment and being grateful that I had the opportunity to care for my mother. I found the sacred in the midst of the stress. Birth and death are both sacred moments.
Mary Enlow, Ashland
I grew up with a single dad and I helped care for my little sister. I was home after school and went to sports games. It was a lot of fun. I never thought of it as stress. Now I get Mother's Day cards even though I'm not a mom.
Pamela K. Pearson, Rogue River
The hardest part of caring for elderly parents is respecting their independence in a difficult transition for them. Helping, but not over-helping. The stress is realizing that we'll all transition through that phase and it's not necessarily easy. It goes back to respect. The reward is the beauty of your parents sharing their life lessons with you.
Nicole Link, Jacksonville
The hardest part with working and taking care of your child is making sure everything is taken care of. I go horseback riding to relieve stress. Just being out there all by yourself in the woods—it's very relaxing. One of the rewards is having someone who will grow up and take care of you.
Linda Haines, Ashland
My mom died a year and a half ago in a care facility. I can't say I handled the stress well, but I used lots of humor and a stiff upper lip. Her death has made me take care of things right away. I live more in the moment now. It did give me a new perspective. I don't hold grudges and I don't defer gratification.
Alice Hardesty, Ashland
I took care of my husband, Jack, during two episodes of esophageal cancer and the aftermath of his treatment. There was a lot of emotional work. He was a very brave patient and very positive. It was, Jack, himself who helped me. One of the most important things I learned was to accept my own feelings, which ran the gamut—sympathy, anger and grief.
Katherina Koller, Ashland
I have been a caregiver for hospice. There were long hours and night work. I am not a night person, but I made the adjustment. You do this thing for love. Then you do your work just like you would do it for your momma. Once I cared for a dying mother who had young children. She followed the light the whole way to death. This kind of thing opens your heart. Joy is there—we have to be willing to stretch.