PART 2: REFLECTIONS
By Barbara Crooker
The Caregifted folks sent us a survey, asking me to describe, in three words, how I felt when I returned from my getaway. Here’s my answer:
relaxed, renewed, recharged.
They then asked, how has your getaway changed your perspective on life and your role as a caregiver? And I said:
We’re in it (caregiving) for the long run. I’ve learned many years ago that we’d both need breaks (before retirement, my husband traveled a lot for business; now, I’m the one more likely to be away for a few days at a time. But we also learned that we needed to go away together, to remind ourselves about why we’re still a couple. So I wouldn’t say this getaway changed my perspective, but rather, it reinforced how necessary getting away is.
Next, they asked me to describe my emotions when I came home. Here’s my reply:
I think, because I’ve done this before, that my experience away is tempered by my memories of other stays. I’ve been going to an artist colony (The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweet Briar, VA) since 1990 for ten day stays (I amped it up to two weeks this past March). As you leave the colony, a visual artist has painted a sign, a rendering of the blue sky with white clouds, marked “The Real World.” Everything at the VCCA (or our respite getaways) is not the real world, but we know it’s waiting for us, and we have to go back. And really, I wouldn’t trade my life for someone else’s. (All I want is to know that my son will be adequately cared for, once I’m gone…We live in Pennsylvania, where the only thing that’s being funded is something called “lifesharing,” a euphemism for adult foster care—not where we’d want our son to end up.)
Finally, they asked me what thoughts or information would I like to share with other caregivers who are going on their own getaway. Here’s what I said:
Take lots of pictures and savor every delicious moment.
About the Author
Barbara Crooker’s books of poetry are Radiance, winner of the Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, winner of the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More; and Gold. She was a finalist for the 2012 Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, and her work appears in The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Barbara is the mother of a 29-year-old son with autism who lives with her at home. Learn more at www.barbaracrooker.com