Lynette Wilson Juul submitted a story for Finding the JOY in Caregiving, and it was so inspiring I asked if The Caregiver’s Voice could do a feature of her and her son, Peter.
She replied, “I am greatly honored and touched that you are interested in doing a feature of my son and me for the TheCaregiver’sVoice.com.”
Here is the story that touched me. I hope it will also touch you.
I sometimes wonder if there is a genetic predisposition to caregiving.
I have been a caregiver for many years, and have had the privilege of working in diverse situations, including at-home care for the elderly, work with the mentally ill in a group home, and case management for the developmentally disabled.
At the same time, I’ve also been raising a sixteen-year-old son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although extremely challenging at times, he has been my pride and JOY, full of quirkiness, quick-wit, and, as I recently discovered, deep compassion.
Over the years, I’ve worked at jobs where I could include him in certain activities. Visits to group homes on holidays and special occasions. Participation in recreational activities, like trips to the movies, mall, or even a nearby aquarium. He has even gone on vacations with some of the individuals I’ve served, and in the process, developed close relationships with their family members.
He has observed his mom being a caregiver not only for him, but also for others, during his entire life.
Last year, my son made the decision to move 3,000 miles away to assist his father in caring for his aging grandparents. Sadly, his grandmother passed away this past spring due to medical reasons, leaving behind his grandfather, whose memory is steadily deteriorating due to dementia.
Yet right in the midst of this difficult situation, I have seen a truly amazing and incredibly inspiring transformation take place in my often self-absorbed teenager during this past year, and it has been an absolute JOY to witness.
In spite of the tremendous challenges of caring for an aging loved one, my son has managed to form a strong and special bond with his Grandfather, one that did not exist before. Like a duck to water, my son slid right into the role of caring for his “Far Far” (an affectionate Danish term for Grandfather).
In our frequent phone conversations, my son described to me how he helped his Grandfather get up, dressed, and on the bus to the daycare program. He detailed how he organized his medications for the week, prepared evening meals for him, and most importantly, how he helped establish a regular routine for his “Far Far” filled with quality companionship.
And even though his Grandfather slowly continues to disconnect from the familiar world he once knew, my son, along with the presence of a loyal and loving dog, has managed to maintain a meaningful relationship with him.
I asked him one night how he learned to take such good care of his Grandfather.
He answered quite quickly, as if the answer should be obvious. “I learned it from watching you, Mommy.”
She adds, “All I’ve ever wanted to do was touch other lives in a meaningful way, and caregiving has allowed me this pleasure.”
Click on the link for more information about Lynette Wilson Juul.
Lynette may have a point: There may be a genetic link among caregivers.