I have been taking care of my neighbour who is also a friend for a few days. She has a very serious motor neuron disease which has taken her from being a very active woman (a few years back we went to Zumba together) to a woman who can not walk, eat or do even the most normal things without help. She has a group of people who care for her, her family, home health care workers, friends, neighbours, etc. I usually help out when her other caretaker goes away.
Every time that I go over to her house, I am shocked at how fast this has gone. M was the person who encouraged me 4 years ago to start at the sportschool and lose weight, going with me the first time. She took care of our beloved kitty cat for a month each summer so we could go back to the states to visit family. She was so active, always busy, biking, gardening, even painted the outside of their house! My DH used to tease me and say I needed to be more like her!
It breaks my heart to see a woman in her 50's so dependent now on all of us for everything. And I mean everything. She can't do even the most basic things by herself. She has a wonderful family that love her to death and do so much and then her friends and neighbours that help out. But still, how hard it must be for M. Her mind is totally fine, but because she is so weak, it takes long minutes to have her point to the letter board to tell me something even basic. She is even too weak to text now...
Today is one of my days to help out. I volunteered because her normal caretaker needed to go away for a few days. Am trying to stay upbeat and give her all the neighborhood news as I feed her. We watch a TV program together or listen to music or just chat. Well, I chat and she has to listen! I do make her laugh alot, which makes me feel good, like I am hopefully brightening her day.
I always leave incredibly grateful for my muscles and arms and legs that still work. For the fact that I can walk outside whenever I want and feel the sun on my face, can pick up anything, can play my piano, can communicate without the help of a letter board. For having a problem (being overweight) that I can DO something about. That I can fix, even if it's hard. There are times I am upstairs on my treadmill, tired and wanting to stop. And then I think about M, lying on the bed in her livingroom, right across the garden from me, and how much she loved to go to the gym. And how we used to go together...
I am grateful for the chance to do this for someone who has helped me out for almost 20 years when we moved into this little dutch village. I hope with all my heart that she will be able to stay at home with her family till the end.
You just never know what life is going to bring you. I watch M and her family deal with her illness with courage and grace. I am grateful to be a witness to what love in a family can mean. And today, I am once again, grateful for my health.
Thanks for listening.