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  • Writer's pictureValena Spradley

To everything there is a season...

These words are often used at a funeral to comfort the grieving. For me it always gave comfort to see and hear written words reminding me that I was not the first to walk this path – it is the natural order of things.  These words are also included in a pretty cool song that came out in 1965 - the year I was born.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  

2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  

3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  

4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. 



I started my Caregiver Journey in 2017 when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  At the beginning it was just going to doctor appointments with her and my dad. He was on disability due to COPD and she had always cared for him and been his advocate. They tried to hide her decline from me. They knew I was busy with a new job, and raising a teenager. As the years quickly went by and she couldn’t drive and then he couldn’t drive so I spent more time in doctor offices and running 2 households.  

 I’ve worked hard to bury all of those stressful memories but that changed this week.  You know it’s easy to keep busy, especially when Covid hit and the world we’ve lived in the last few years. My dad passed away in February of 2020 and my mom in August of 2022. I’ve spent a lot of time healing and resting. I left my original career at the top of my game – VP, great salary – all the perks you spent your career fighting for. The job I had taken in 2015 changed and became very stressful especially when being a caregiver to my parents, and health issues with my husband and daughter in 2018 so I made the decision to leave. We adjusted our budget, and I took a part-time job. We were finally able to get my parents into assisted living in August of 2019 – that took off so much stress. I now knew they were eating at regular times , taking their meds at the right time and  weren’t going to burn the house down – I was there one day and started loading the dishwasher and saw that mom had put the plastic wear in there to be cleaned. We had to switch to plastic because she kept throwing away the real silverware.  

 I started this blog wanting to share encouragement with other caregivers but to be honest I was in survival mode in 2021 when I started it and then I was just tired. I put the stress and experiences in a box in my mind and put in on a shelf and closed that door hard.

I didn’t think about it –much like the trunk full of family photos I now have after selling their home. It’s hard to relive that – sometimes I truly don’t know how I got through each day.  

But I was asked to be the Mission speaker at the upcoming Ribbon cutting for the  Walk to End Alzheimer’s Walk this fall.   I had put together a team in 2019 and it was a great experience. Last year I helped with volunteers and took photos the day of the event. This year I decided I was ready to do another team and it’s called The Caregiver Sandwich to honor those who are the caregivers.  



I was asked to talk about my experiences and give a few photos of mom to be shown during the event. That took me to the trunk, and to the memories. I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing my home office and last week came across the folder with all the correspondence from the Assisted Living location while we were trying to get their Medicaid approved.  That long story is definitely one for another time. I read the emails and was immediately pulled back into the stress of the situation. Doing my best to respect my parents' wishes for independence. - knowing that they physically were not able to care for each other and then dealing with the government to ensure they would be able to stay in the assisted living facility.   



I didn’t want to open that door again – I didn’t want to relive the stress or the memories. But as the Bible says for everything there is a season. I am very thankful that I’ve had my season of rest – I stepped out of the business world and big social activities that used to fill my calendar. Covid was a huge reset button for me and with the passing of my dad in 2020, my mother-in-law in 2021 and mom 2022 I didn't realize how much I needed to rest. To take a nap on a random Tuesday, to cry in the middle of the afternoon or Runaway and Be Still. I’ve been blessed to have a very  supportive husband and good friends.  

 After finding that folder and searching for photos I realize it is now my time to share and to encourage others.  

If you are currently a caregiver – stay strong – know that you are seen and loved. I encourage you to reach out to me – I'd love to hear your story and perhaps share it with our community. You do not have to do this journey alone.  

 

And if you want to listen to the Song - Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds -  here you go 

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