Give A Caregiver A Break

"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed." - Audrey Hepburn

Each morning, heading west to Mansfield, I am predictably stopped by the light at the intersection of Hanley Road and Ohio 13.

A crossroads of chaotic activity, commuters climb a ramp to Cleveland or Columbus.  Others wait in line for coffee or an Egg McMuffin.

Fast people, fast food.

On the east side of the highway is an open, grassy field, bordered on two sides by a steel guardrail.  A developer's dream, the area is free of man-made structure, as natural as the day it was created.

A red-winged blackbird found its way to this very spot last Wednesday, greeting me three days in a row as I pulled up to the light.

He was perched on a post, close enough I could have reached out and touched him.  He blinked and held his head high, his bright red epaulets and pale yellow wingbars proudly displayed.

I looked that bird straight in the eye, and I swear, his little beak murmured, "Spring is here."

Sweet, sweet, spring- a time of renewal, growth and new beginnings.  We encounter rain, mud and slush, but our step is lighter because we know the end is in sight.  We've survived cold and darkness, and emerged with a fresh purpose.

When I consider how vital this renewal is to the human spirit, my heart goes out to those who have depleted their reservoirs, those who desperately need refueled.

Is a change in weather enough for them?

We have caregivers throughout our communities who feel helpless about their loved one's condition.  They are beyond exhaustion, as they juggle jobs and families with bathing, dressing, cleaning, shopping and paying bills.

Some are angry at their situations.  Others are in complete denial.

Often caregivers feel guilty, thinking they aren't doing enough.  They feel isolated and lonely, and their grief is compounded with each change for the worse.

What can we do?

As birds fly in flocks to reduce the energy they expend, we can join forces to lighten the load of nurturers.

Send a card or flowers to a caregiver you know.

Volunteer your time to give a caregiver a break.  They need personal lives outside of nurturing.  They need balance.

Laughter is so appreciated.  Sometimes transportation is needed.  Other times telephone reassurance is the ticket.

Even a "How you doin?" can lift the spirits.

Give the gift of renewal, and when you're given that look of "How did you know?"...

Just tell them a little bird told you.

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