God has got a plan for me

by Janie
(San Antonio, TX)

I am what I call the reluctant caregiver. I don't know, it seems like all a blur now, but I find myself the sole caretaker of my 87 year old mother in law who has severe Alzheimer.

My husband is the youngest of the family, he has three sisters and five brothers, none of which have come to visit my mother in law in over a year going on two or more years for some of them, they do not talk to us and have totally abandoned their mother.

I suffer from chronic pain due to severe arthritis in my neck and back, and have nerve damage so is difficult to walk at times, but I still manage to bathe my mother in law daily. I also take care of my two grandchildren, a boy 15 months and a girl 3 years old, while my daughter attends college.

And I will eventually be taking care of my husband who was diagnosed early this year with cirrhosis of the liver and may only have five years left, or so we pray, God willing we will have more years together, we have been married for 32 years, and I am only 48, my husband is only 49.

His brothers and sisters do not know of his illness and we plan not to tell them, they don't care about their mother, we doubt if they will care about him, other than to fight me for the house (we moved in with my mother in law) if something were to happen to my husband.

It was very difficult at first taking care of my mother in law by myself, as I did not want to do it, and I resented the fact that his family had put all this on me, without asking, or offering to help any. I admit there are days too many, that I still have resentment towards his family, especially for the neglect of my mother in law and for the shabby way they have always treated my husband. But as time went on taking care of my mother in law, I began to change how I felt towards her, she is difficult as she is always swearing and yelling at me and calling me names, but I guess it doesn't hurt because she is not my mother, but sometimes... but I am gentle and loving towards, her, although there have been days that I regret.

As I am starting menopause hormones don't help the patience. So I sing to her while I shower her and that helps to calm her down, I found that she can detect my mood the way babies do, and if I am in a hurry or impatient she reacts with hostility and if I am patient and singing she is calm and more cooperative, and singing calms us both down, the song I always sing while showering her is "One day at a time..." but in Spanish as she has reverted mostly back to Spanish, which has been difficult for me also as my Spanish is really bad, so sometimes it's hard to get through to her but we manage.

I also am the head of two ministries at my church and am secretary of the parish council. That part of my life really fuels me to keep doing what I am doing, if I didn't have a life of my own and my faith I could not keep going and giving, as it is there are times when I feel totally overwhelmed, but God is always there to pick me up again, faith and prayer is what has gotten me this far.

It is going on two years now that I have been my mother in law's sole caretaker, and now with my husband's diagnosis it has become harder because I want to be able to take my husband and go on vacation or at least take a weekend away but we can never go far because we always have to get back to my mother in law.

That has also been hard, so I try to get outside a little each day even if I can't go anywhere, it helps to connect and to breathe the fresh air, and look up into the sky and know that one day things will be better, God has got a plan for me, "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope." Jeremiah 29:11

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Apr 05, 2011
You're Great!
by: Noel

Dear Janie, I'm glad that you wrote in your experience. I understand that being a caregiver can be very draining as you have to support them all day long, putting aside our own stress and problems. And I doubt that I could ever take care of more than 1 person... but you did it! You show enormous strength, faith, love and attitude in care giving. That's the power of love... Anyway Janie, you're not alone. Beside God, you'll always have my blessing. Best wishes to you :)

Apr 28, 2011
Thank you :)
by: Diane

Janie, thank you so much for sharing your story, a tremendous help to all that read. I know the day will come when I too will have to take care of my parents and my in-laws since I'm an only child and I don't think my husband's sister will be around to help. She never helped her family with anything in her life. May God continue to bless you with an abundance of patience, kindness, strength, hope and most of all Love. Best of luck to you and your family.

Aug 23, 2011
True Inspiration
by: Rizwana

Dear Janie, you are a true inspiration for me. I am recently married and have problems somewhat similar to yours. Hence I empathize with you. I am a working professional and I have to rush home anyhow to take care of my mother in law. But my problem seems to be very small in front of yours. Of course, God has better plans for all of us. May God bless you, your husband and your mother in law too.

Oct 04, 2011
Bless You!
by: Anonymous

I went through a similar thing with my siblings. I took care of my mother for 8 years, while I worked two jobs and attend college.

I am embarrassed to say that while some of the anger remains towards my siblings, I tend to avoid them so I am not reminded of their actions. I can talk to them but we don't have family gatherings. We have to let all of the anger go so that forgiveness replaces that anger.

The Lord is going to bless you for doing this. My mother has since passed and the memories comfort me. You are doing the Lord's work. Hang in there!

Bless You!

Oct 17, 2011
God has a plan for you
by: Anonymous

Thanks for sharing. Your work is not in vain. I can assure you that your husband's siblings will regret to the last day once your mother-in-law is no more. Meanwhile, you and your family will have peace that comes only from God. I know, because i took care of my mother in-law for 11 years without little or no support from my husband's siblings.

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