Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cartakers and cowboy movies

Recently I've been talking a lot to a few friends that are taking care of relatives in health crisis of one type or another. A father with ALS, parents with dementia, a mother with Alzheimer's, a wife going through chemo and radiation, a friend with serious, suicidal depression. All incredibly difficult and emotionally and physically exhausting situations for the afflicted and, to another degree, the caretaker. Not to make light of those suffering the challenges, the needs of the caretakers themselves are often neglected or completely forgotten throughout the crisis. No one intends for that to happen but that's the way it is from what I have observed with these people. In one particular instance, a husband has been visiting his wife of 61 years, in a care facility due to her advanced Alzheimer's, every day, all day until he is kicked out at night. His doctor told him to back off and start taking care of himself more so he can experience life too. The husband is having a difficult time doing that. If he doesn't go every day, all day he feels guilty. Just one example of how this caretaking thing works sometimes. When you love someone it just comes natural I think.

That brings me to the cowboy movies. "SAGEBRUSH THEATRE" was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. On Saturday morning, upon waking at 6am as usual, (much to the sleepy dismay of my hard working, sleep deprived parents) I would grab a quick slice of sugar covered buttered bread and rush over to Hank and Ken's house. Their home, with 7 kids under age 11 was always filled with activity even at that early hour. We'd just hunker down in front of the TV and watch Sagebrush Theatre, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Sky King and finally Roy Rogers. We learned all about life from those cowboy shows it seems sometimes. Bad guys often wore mustaches and wore black hats. Cowgirls were the most beautiful and smartest women ever and always helped their cowboy friends. And, when it comes to caretaking: A horse was the most important part of being a safe and healthy cowboy. Cowboys, always needing a healthy horse to help them automatically knew that when the day was done and the horses work was over, the cowboy would feed and brush and check the horse to make sure their horses needs were taken care of before they ate, washed up or bedded down for the night. That assured them that the horse would be there for them in the morning. The horse took care of them, they took care of the horse. The bad guys didn't always do that and their horses got sick and then the bad guys had to walk.

That's what I learned about caretaking from cowboy movies. I wonder if that holds true for people too?

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