It is a strange day when you look at your parent and realise that you must now look after them, that you must now be the one in charge, the grown up.
My mother has always been my rock. My father died when I was nineteen and she got through that with the help of great family and friends. It was a real blow to her as my parents were actually deeply in love with one another. However, even when she was going through that hell she was still always there. In fact, it made us even closer. There was, and is, really nothing I wouldn’t tell my mother. Wherever in the world I was living I could always count on her. I shared my triumphs, my joys, my worries, my everything with her…
Then she was diagnosed with cancer. To say it was earth shattering was an understatement. I had already lost one parent to that affliction; I couldn’t believe that my other parent was battling with it. For a variety of reasons, I ended up moving back home to be with my mother. She never asked me to of course, and worried what it would do to my life. But I knew that it was time for me to be there. She is not the type of person who would ever ask, but all of my siblings couldn’t do it for various reasons.
So I moved back home. That in itself was quite the adjustment. However, as I watched my mother lying in a hospital bed and talking only in monosyllabic tones I quickly realised I had to get with it! I could stress and worry about it all or take it day by day and do what needed to be done. So I kept the house clean and secure while she was in hospital; I fed and minded the cat, took phone messages and tried to visit her daily. When she came out, I helped her readjust to being back at home, made her nourishing meals, kept her company in the evenings when she was tired and offered all the moral support I could.
She is now very well and my life has changed beyond recognition. I still nag her about looking after herself and tease her that her daughter is now the bossy, nagging one and she is the naughty child, but besides that our roles have gone back to what they were before. I do worry about her health, but not to the same extent as I once did. There are some nights I wake up in a panic, thinking about it coming back, but all I can do is live one day at a time.
Life can take us on some journeys, but we can survive them. It’s an annoying cliché sure, but if you keep a positive attitude you will be okay. Even if the worst happens you will survive. There will be hard times, but you can move through them. I did. I know you can too. There are some great support groups available for carers.
Information on your rights and entitlements can also be found at the Carers Association website here.