It’s November! Thanksgiving is around the corner and it’s National Family Caregiver Month. The 2017 theme, “Caregiving around the clock,” is a perfect description of what love ones exhibit each day.
Do you know someone who is a caregiver? Caregiving can be a 24-hours a day/7-day a week job. Caring for a disabled loved one, a special needs child, or senior with Alzheimer can be non-stop. Providing care around the clock can often cross into other important areas of life–it can affect the entire family. Keys2hope recognize the challenges family caregivers endure providing “caregiving around the clock.”
Keys2hope is thanking all caregivers for their countless hours of labor-of-love. We are hosting our first GIVEAWAY and you can help! We are sending a 2018 Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar to ten caregivers—if your caregiver wins, we’ll send you a 2018 Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar too!
The 2018 Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar includes a little card attached to the back (pictured on the right) that features FREE Chick-fil-A food every month!
Here is how to enter the giveaway:
- Follow @keys2hope on Instagram
- Submit a caregiver and share their story via Instagram Direct Message
- We will pick ten caregivers as winners, each receiving (1)-Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar
- If the caregiver you submit wins, you’ll also receive (1)-Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar
Note: winners are picked based on the most compelling stories.
I am honoring my mother, Denise Charleston and congratulating her on being a caregiver for almost five years. She is passionate about her siblings, family, and church members—really anyone she encounters. My mother loves through action. She’s the kind of person that will tell you how she’s helping vs. asking do you need help. Usually, she’ll pull all of us in on her “helping” (kids and husband)—we don’t always understand her “why” but, we have learned to just roll with it, because that’s how God uniquely created her–and we love her for it!
A few years ago, my uncle had several back-to-back strokes that left him disabled. My mother stayed with him in the hospital every day for three months—she would take showers and change clothes at the hospital. I would come home from Virginia to visit—most times heading to the hospital to stay with my mom all day. Our family did everything together, so this was a weird spot for us. Attending church without my mom on Sundays was hard. We would rush back to eat dinner with her at the hospital cafeteria—actually, we would eat a lot of dinners during the week at the hospital cafeteria!
At the time, my little brother was in high school (playing football and running track) and my little sister was attending a local college (staying at home)—my dad had to rearrange his work schedule–great thing he’s an entrepreneur. Life for us changed drastically—we didn’t understand why my mom had to sacrifice her family, but she did it because she cared and she knew how people could slip away in that vulnerable state of thinking everyone abandoned them.
Dad, little brother, and I after the Mallard Creek Football Game
I asked my mom to explain why she stayed at the hospital everyday for three months. She replied:
I stayed there every day and night to provide moral support to my little brother. I shared his story with nurses and doctors—ensuring that they understood who he was before he had several strokes. I wanted to paint them a picture of who he was—to ensure they understood he was not some old man, ready to die with no life. He had family who loved and cared for him. I assisted the nurses, sometimes helped with bathing, provided range of motion, and ensured proper care was given daily. I also wanted to help him remember that God had a purpose. I wanted to emphasize the spiritual side to keep him encouraged, so I showed him preaching videos and Christ Gospel Church livestream services, Youtube videos of Gospel songs & artist, and old Church of God In Christ (COGIC) videos—it was important for him to remember his Christian roots, his family, and music—all the things that resonated with who he was. I played his favorite movies, showed him pictures, and people on Facebook that he knew—I tried to keep him current on life, to include him in our world. This is how he was going to get out of the hospital, this was how he was going to progress. I played his Christmas Instrumental CD (my uncle is a self-trained pianist, who composed a Christmas CD a few years ago)—to help him remember. The nurses and doctors said that’s what he needed. He needs his family and people who love him to come around.”
My mom was not trained in nursing or anything in the medical field. She was a real estate agent. My mom was the most unrealistic person to be a caregiver (SN: We don’t even put her down as an emergency contact person because she worries too much). It’s remarkable to see how she stretched herself because of love. She would later use her knowledge from the hospital to provide long-term care for my uncle.
It was not easy for me living in a different state and knowing that my mom constantly stayed at the hospital–I worried a lot about her health. My mom has a tendency to neglect herself because of caring for others. I could tell how much weight she was losing each time I visited home—she wasn’t always able to eat regularly and oftentimes, there was no one to relieve her or bring her food throughout the day (my dad was working and my sister didn’t drive).
I recall during this time that I was traveling a lot for work, in addition to living out of state. I met a fellow Marketing Director from Chick-fil-A–she and I were roomies for an event in D.C. She overheard me talking to my mom about my uncle and noticed that I looked worried. She asked if everything was okay. I shared the story with her and she told me that she worked at the Chick-fil-A down the street from the hospital. She offered to cater Chick-fil-A food to my family once she returned. I was shocked and utterly grateful (one more reason why I love Chick-fil-A). Unfortunately, she had to leave early due to a family emergency, but she stayed true to her word and surprised my family with Chick-fil-A trays.
That was almost five years ago! My uncle was released after three months and moved in with my family. My mother remains his caregiver with the help of a few nurses from time to time. Our family life has not changed much, Thanksgivings look a lot different, family trips are often missing my mom, but we know what she does is more important. It has taught us all that life is never what we expect. It has taught us to love through action, and to give from the heart. Most importantly, it has taught us how to love each other more and to keep God at the center.
I want to thank each person who visited the hospital and our home to see my uncle and to encourage my mom. Thank you for your countless hours of emotional relief to my mom and helping her remember that she is also loved and cared for. You all put my mind at ease. Church family is some of the best in the world.
Mom we salute you every day and thank God for your strength and will to endure. We celebrate your love and “caregiving around the clock.”
Keys2hope: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” ~Philippians 1:6