Published by IMAGE Books, 2012
The author begins each set of reflections with an introduction based on her own thoughts and experiences, a scripture verse, a story from a caregiver, and closes with a prayer.
The fifty-two stories in this book are written by caregivers – spouses, daughters, sons, siblings, neighbors, strangers, and professional caregivers – and are based on their experiences dealing with those who are or were dying.
Among the stories that stand out for me are LuAnn Angelo’s account of her mother’s Alzheimer’s that caused her to descend into the state of a toddler and eventually an infant requiring diapers, where the daughter became her mother’s mother;
Steve Nooyen’s story of voluntarily caring for a stranger, Howie the Hoarder, and how Steve was challenged by Howie’s house, but gradually was able to see through the junk and encounter the real Howie who was a human person, capable of love and friendship;
Julie Hillmer’s struggle of moving her mother-in-law Marjory from one facility to another until finally she found the best home that met Marjory’s needs;
Jeanne Griffiths compassionate description of how she came to care for her mother, even to the point of bathing her, where a special intimacy is born out of that humbling experience of caring for someone in her most private and vulnerable moments;
Kay Shield’s heart-wrenching account of being blessed with Patrick, a special needs child, and her and her husband’s question of “why?” and “God, can I do this?” Particularly beautiful is how the two older brothers came to love Pat, even though he remains at the developmental stage of an infant. They helped dress, feed, and even change his diapers.
One of the saddest parts of Kay’s story deals with a Mother’s Day Brunch for women with special needs children. Kay was relating to the women how her sons take responsibility to help parent Patrick, when one of the mothers said, “My children would never do anything to help their brother.” Many of the women nodded in agreement. Kay was shocked (as was I) but happy to realize what a blessing her sons are contributing to such a loving family that cares so much;
Marian Battersby’s story of how depression affects not only the person experiencing it, but also all of the caregivers to that person, and the courage and strength the Lord provides to all involved;
And finally Colette Hofelich’s point that even if one places a loved one in a facility, that it does not lessen one’s work load or responsibility to the loved one. On the contrary, one still remains a caregiver and requires visits and follow-up care, among the many other quotidian tasks.
Though I am a Permanent Deacon and chaplain, accustomed to visiting the sick, suffering, and dying, and my wife, Mary Grace, is a hospice and hospital chaplain, Hogan’s book convicted me to be truly present to those with whom I minister.
It is said of Mother Teresa that when you were in her presence, you – and you alone – were the only person in the world to her. She was undistracted and was totally present to that person.
This is a lost art today, especially with so many distractions: cell phones, texts, social networking sites, television, etcetera.
Hogan’s book and the collection of stories challenged me as son, cousin, nephew, father, Permanent Deacon, and teacher, to not only visit my own loved ones, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, but to be truly present to others, and especially to seek reconciliation of those with whom we are estranged.
The fact that there are fifty-two stories makes this book a good bed-side reader for all of us – one story a week for one year.
Thank you, Lori, for such an insightful book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”