CONGRATULATIONS, Barbara Gaughen-Muller for capping off 2010 as
The Caregiver’s Voice Caregiver of the Month of December!
Barbara submitted her self-nomination after checking to see if The Caregiver’s Voice would consider a caregiver who recently lost her loved one. (Yes, we will, providing your loss is within a few months.) Barbara’s beloved husband, Robert, passed away in September and hers is an inspirational love story of how to make one’s last years happy ones despite the enormity of caregiving. (Ed.)
Barbara Gaughen-Muller reflects upon her late husband
My dear husband passed exactly two months ago. I’m sitting in my favorite chair gazing at the garden he loved so much, in warm reflection of the many years we had together. I married the former United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Robert Muller, who spent an illustrious forty years working and writing for Peace and a Better World.
I remember the first time we met at a conference where his speech allowed me to see the optimism he held for a world he said was still in its infancy. His words thrilled everyone in the audience and inspired me too to the global challenge.
Seventeen magical and romantic years
We married shortly after and shared seventeen magical romantic years together. We traveled the world for speeches, shared workshops, book signings, and wrote 7,000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World. I was always with this great spirited force on the planet; speaking and writing, and living in Costa Rica and Santa Barbara. We were true partners of hope for our beloved planet. We shared our passion and our love with our combined families that included six children and eleven grandchildren.
The sacred gift of caregiving is not easy and yet
the blessings are there to take with us to the end of our lives.
Our workshops went from a global view into the theme of his previous books on happiness and we were genuinely happy to be together.
He would forget he had just called me.
It broke my heart to see how this brilliant man, dedicated to saving our planet, became ill and began to forget things. I think it was our happiness seminars and speeches that sustained me for three difficult years. There wasn’t a moment when he was not calling my name. He would forget he had just called me, even when I answered over and over again, often loudly as his hearing was also failing. Every time he said my name, I found a strength that helped me smile and answer.
Two TCV Caregiver of the Month selection committee members, who are currently family caregivers, wrote:
This kind of love is a once-in-a-lifetime love.
Her story really touched my whole being with her devoted love for her husband. She triumphed in the complete meaning of the sacred gift of caregiving for someone with brain impairment. She placed herself in her husband’s world. Her last paragraph says it all. She is very inspiring.
Learned a whole new way to relate to him to make sure he was happy
I had to learn a whole new way of relating to my husband and I was going to make sure he was happy. I had to be tremendously creative every day, taking him on drives, out to restaurants, to the beach, even if he forgot the next day. Each and every morning, I greeted him with a smile and put one of his DVD interviews on the television to remind him of who he was and made scrapbooks of his family and put familiar items in his room.
I was on call twenty-four hours a day as his primary caregiver. My decision to be happy helped me care for him and the sound of “Ode to Joy” from his harmonica which he played to his last day.
Every year we continued to celebrate his birthday at our favorite pizza parlor with friends and relatives. When friends came to visit, we watched old DVDs together.
He would often ask if we were married. He was delighted when I said, “You bet.”
I felt honored to help this great man in his last years, to love him in a different way, and when his time came, we were both at peace.
My decision to be happy helped me care for him.
Caregiving …a gift of love
He touched me, expanded me as a person, and I became stronger; developing a compassionate and caring nature for others, especially friends, who also are dedicated caretakers. The very thing that seemed so hard and challenging ended as a gift of love given and received, a strength that will stay with me forever. I am grateful for the memories and the way he touched my life. The sacred gift of caregiving is not easy and yet the blessings are there to take with us to the end of our lives.
Self-Nomination by Barbara Gaughen-Muller
NOW ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS for our first CAREGIVER of the MONTH (CotM) in 2011.
We are accepting nominations now for our next Caregiver of the Month. We invite you to submit nominations for family and professional caregivers for the month of January 2011. Please click on Nominate TCV’s Caregiver of the Month.
GIFTS for our CAREGIVER of the MONTH (CotM)
The Caregiver’s Voice will be sending Barbara Gaughen-Mullen copies of Finding the JOY in Alzheimer’s: When Tears are Dried with Laughter and Finding the JOY in Alzheimer’s: Caregivers Share the JOYFUL Times. We’d like to give our deserving caregivers more gifts. Right now, The Caregiver’s Voice solely underwrites this program and charges no application fees. We invite Sponsors to underwrite this recognition program–your banner appears for one month and your support is included in our monthly newsletter. Donations are also welcome–click on “donate” in left side bar.