Care Giving.

help concept, special toned photo f/x, focus point selective

I should know. I was caregiver for my late wife for seven years and for my late father for two. Both were as different as chalk and cheese in terms of the quality of the experience of caring, but in retrospect with time to reflect and having read up more on the experiences of others, I can say that there were some common features that I should have identified but missed and hence made both the care giving and the care receiving a painful process as far as my experience with my father was concerned.

Why am I suddenly raking up the past? I am neither a caregiver nor a care receiver at present and I hope that I will never become the latter ever.

One of my son, Ranjan’s young friends had been having problems with providing care for his retired widower father and had confided his problems with him. Ranjan suggested that the young man, let us call him Dilip, talk to me and so he called on me last week and shared his problems with me.  I in turn shared my experiences of what I did as a caregiver for my father and also what I should have done differently and what I should not have done at all. He seemed to have been relieved that his experience was not unique and went away with the intention of taking my advice on some matters that were his current problems.

During my caregiving days I was quite active on the caregivers group informally and formally via blogs, mail, personal contacts and facebook and one such contact of those days, JS contacted me on the messenger on facebook on reading my post on Justification with advice and we had a very fruitful exchange there.

These two instances coming one after the other last week got me to reflect on my own experiences as currently I am going through a whymeitis phase with a cold / fever phenomenon attributed to the changed weather conditions by my GP. This temporary setback made me think that if I can be so debilitated with a garden variety cold due to my senior citizen status, I may end up like my father did receiving care from a son and that I should try and not be like what my father was to me.

My reflections during the last few days has given me some insights which I need to firm up before I share them with my readers which I will do shortly as a sequel to this post.

The Bore.

“Bore:  A man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.”
~Gian Vincenzo Gravina

Gravina made a mistake. I would have said, a person instead of a man. Not that I suspect Gravina to be a male chauvinist, but because, I recently had to endure over an hour of utter boredom and frustration, condemned by my inability to say “no” to a young lady. I don’t remember when it was that I last had a head ache, but this monologue, with just a few interruptions from me, left me with a splitting one. The young lady is having marital problems and I can understand why. If she goes on and on with her husband the way she did with me, the poor sod will naturally seek the nearest bar and male company. Now, lest I be accused of being sexist, I grant that the other way round is also a possibility, but this post is a direct outcome of my recent experience with a lady. No more, no less. I have had experiences of other bores of the masculine variety too.

Many years ago, as part of a training program, I came across this quotation. “The barnacle is confronted with an existential decision about where it is going to live. Once it decides, it spends the rest of its life with its head cemented to a rock of its choice.”

Bores are usually of this description. They learn enough to get into some activity that will give them an income and stop growing after that, or, often in the case of Indian women, get married, produce children and become nags. They learn nothing new, and if in employment, will get time scale promotions and increments and will retire peacefully and disappear into oblivion, much to the relief of many bored and frustrated objects of their attention, including children.

But, in the meanwhile, they will cause havoc to their environment and will get more bitter about their inability to maintain or grow in relationships, and take out the bitterness on unsuspecting listeners, like me with my latest experience. They become stale and people avoid them like the plague. Unfortunately, I cannot avoid this particular bore as she is the daughter of a very good friend of mine, and I have known her since she was a babe in arms. On the other hand, her parents who are classic cases of the barnacle syndrome live a safe distance away from me and except for the occasional phone call, I do not have to listen to them take off on the trials and tribulations of their only child, now safely married away to an unsuspecting young man, who I am sure must now be regretting ever having set his eyes on her. He perhaps has no sympathetic and indulgent ‘uncle’ to listen to him, and may sooner than later, decide to call the whole thing off. I hope that he reads this to know that if he does that, he will have my full understanding and support.

My barnacle friend followed his daughter and called me a day later to figure out why I gave the advise that I did to his precious. The advise was that since the marriage was not working, and luckily they did not have children, the girl should opt for a divorce and go back to her parents. My friend felt that I should have advised her to change her ways and adjust to her husband. I bluntly told him that his daughter was incapable of change and she too has become a barnacle. Not quite in those words, but in sum and substance. I also suggested that since I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, he persuade his daughter to opt for counseling, to which he took great offense. I gave up and apologized and hung up before he too gave me a head ache.

Jean, I hope that you are reading this. Now you know why occasionally I get the whymeitis. Such distractions come looking for me. I am human.