August 10, 2021

The Caregiving Part of the Writing Life

This space has been very quiet for the last several weeks, as most of my attention has been fixed on caring for my mother as she recovers from two recent hospitalizations; one due to heat exhaustion and the other due to a major surgery. 

As I reflect on the jumble of experiences at hospitals and medical offices; the myriad of interactions with nurses, doctors, physical/occupational therapists, social workers, pharmacists, etc; the growing collection of medical supplies in my home; and the thick files filled with lists of medications being managed, forms to be completed and/or already submitted, hastily scribbled notes related to questions asked and answered, instructions for wound care, and the dates and locations of upcoming follow-up appointments, I am happy to report that my mom is gradually getting healthier and stronger. 

I am exhausted! 

My sister, who lives in San Diego, actively participates in caregiving activities alongside me, focusing on elements of care that can be researched and/or coordinated remotely.  We connect by phone fairly regularly to keep each other updated and provide each other with support. 

Quite often there are events that occur related to some aspect of this journey that are humorous, frustrating, or remarkable enough that they beg to be shared; the writer in me knows that some of these moments are golden from a story perspective (such as when the home health nurse cleaned off the bottom of her DIRTY SHOE on my DINNER TABLE--hard to believe, but true.) 

I wish I could say that I had the bandwidth to get these memorable moments down on paper as they happen, but alas, talking seems to be more helpful and energizing to me during times of over-stimulation and stress than writing. 

I do text my sister with occasional pithy updates (some of which include photographs); I hope that these little snippets of our shared experience will be enough to work with if I ever decide to mine these memories for future stories. 

Visiting nurse cleaning her DIRTY SHOE on my DINNER TABLE! 

Quoting a line from a song (and play) by Jonatha Brooke that I often repeat to my sister (who is also a writer), "Are you getting this down? Boolie, it's good."


  1. Been there, my friend. I took a fairly early retirement to care for my mom. It was during this time that I began my picture book writing journey. Even if I had the physical strength (golly, that care-taking is exhausting), I would not have been able to write about the experience. It would have been just too emotionally draining. Just like childhood, the picture book became my escape. Nowhere did I want to etch the words, "Mom just peed on me." But I could write about forest creatures singing gentle lullabies to their young. Writing is in your DNA. Stories are constantly forming a helix that spins from your heart. I am thinking of you and your sister and am glad to know you have each other to share this particular chapter with. Sending so many hugs to you both.

    1. Thank you, dear one. I am so grateful for your friendship and for your perspective.

  2. I stopped by to see what you were doing as I haven't been on s.m. much. glad I did. I didn't know about the surgery. I've done the kind of care you describe, with Alex. It IS exhausting. I'm not surprised to hear your mom is doing better. So glad. Take care of yourself, allow yourself little indulgences, and get sleep. You are such a good person, Dawn. That kind of energy heals. Sending love and hugs.