Saturday, August 2, 2008

Caregiving and the Golden Rule

Two years ago, when family members heard I was moving in with my father so he could stay in his home, one said to another, “(She) won’t last a year.”

Actually, I agreed.

The very first day, as the movers were bringing in my furniture, Dad and I got into a nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe argument heard up and down the street. He was a lot stronger then and I was not going to allow him to control me as he had for many years.

Not a good start for a caregiver.

Six months later, Dad was rushed to the hospital in a diabetic coma. From that time on, his health steadily declined.

The biggest life lesson I brought with me as a caregiver was to treat him the way I would want others to treat me in similar circumstances.

Barring the need to set our respective boundaries and mark our territory for the first couple of months, we actually have gotten along quite well.

Whenever I feel frustrated, angry or impatient with him, I immediately think, “How would I want my daughters to treat me?” I mean, the thought is immediate.

I can only think it is God reminding me of His law of sowing and reaping.

In lay terms, it is similar to the golden rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Another way of saying it is, what comes around goes around, or you reap what you sow.

No matter how the golden rule or the law of sowing and reaping is expressed, beware of how you treat others, because eventually that behavior is going to come back at you.

If you hurt others, you are going to be hurt. If you are kind to others, chances are others will be kind to you when you need it most.

When I am old and decrepit, I know I want someone to be patient, kind, understanding, helpful, calm in the midst of emergency situations, a listening ear whether they feel like listening or not, tender, protective, and so many other attributes a good caregiver possesses.

It is difficult at times, but I am serious when I say every day there is a voice inside that reminds me how to treat my dad.

That voice carries a lot of weight. When He speaks, I listen.

Not because I want to receive anything, but because it is the right thing to do under the circumstances.

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