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The heart of caregiving

By Kathy Melamed
Clinical Communication Director

February—a month for celebrating love with sweets, fine wine, hearts, poems, homemade, store-bought or e-cards. Trinkets and treasures abound for everyone from lovers to family to friends to teachers and pets.  

While browsing my bookshelf for Valentine inspiration, I rediscovered one of my favorite love stories, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. It is a wistful parable, really, about giving and receiving through a lifetime. In simple words and pictures, Silverstein takes the reader through a love cycle.  The “boy” in Silverstein’s story is not always appreciative, and sometimes he takes the tree for granted and, yes, he is demanding on occasion. The tree gives and gives and eventually, when she feels she has nothing left to offer she gives some more.  

Loving someone who requires care sometimes means giving more than you ever thought you could. It may be exactly what you want to do, and you may be confident, fulfilled, and grateful to do it.   There may also be moments of frustration, sadness, loneliness. You might feel under-appreciated or weary. You may not know exactly what to offer. Loving in a caregiving situation is definitely not always a greeting card vision. It seems way more complex.

Near the end of the book, when the boy has grown old and tired, and the tree is “just a stump,” she says, “‘Come, Boy, sit down.  Sit down and rest.’ And the boy did. And the tree was happy.”  

The gift of just being there is complex—and simple—and profound.  This is caregiving with love.   

Have a lovely month.

Carol Crockett
I loved your beautiful

I loved your beautiful analogy, Kathy, and am particularly grateful to be reminded of the value of "just being there."

Kathy
'Showing up' and 'just being

'Showing up' and 'just being there' are invaluable gifts, aren't they? We feel deep and heartfelt gratitude in the phrase "Thank you for being here for me." I appreciate your comment, Carol. Thank you.

Michele Campbell
Caregiving with love

I truly enjoy and appreciate your comments and thoughts. I have been an HOV nurse for many years and love my job with a passion. I am a caregiver professionally and personally. My husband is disabled and ill and will eventually be on service. It is important to be reminded from time to time of how blessed we are, and to be grateful for whatever we have, resources, friends, faith. I am often reminded that the little things mean a lot. Thank you for helping me to keep my perspective.

Kathy Melamed
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Thank you, Michele, for

Thank you, Michele, for sharing your perspective.  Your combination of passion and compassion are surely gifts at home and at work.  You have a full plate.  Take care of yourself too.

Anne Gorman
The Gift

What a beautiful gift, Kathy, to remind us of the beautiful story of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Caregiving is such a selfless action. One must look outside of self to give so willingly and lovingly. As you said it is not always easy. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our HOV caregivers for the love that they give without reservation. And to all of us who have been in a caregiving situation - bless us one and all.

Kathy Melamed
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Amen.  Thank you, Anne.

Amen.  Thank you, Anne.

Marty Tousley, ...
Thank you!

Kathy, my dear, your beautiful writing is itself a precious gift ~ for all of us. Thank you for being special, wonderful you. ♥

Kathy Melamed
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Marty, for you to compliment

Marty, for you to compliment my writing is so generous and precious to me, as your beautiful site  griefhealing.com  is truly an inspiration and encouragement to so many of us.  I recommend it often to caregivers, patients, and those recovering from loss.  Thank you, my friend.

Sandra Nosek
The Gift

Thank you Kathy! I will have to read that book! Happy February and Happy Valentines Day!

Kathy Melamed
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It is a great book to read

It is a great book to read with someone you love, Sandy.  Enjoy.

Fran Morrison
Selfless Caregiving

Kathy, your example using The Giving Tree was perfect. Caregivers give & give & give some more. We sometimes forget ourselves, and become our own kind of stumps, but we keep on keeping on. I supported my husband for years on his journey through illness. Going forward without him has not been easy, but I regret nothing. Thank you so much for sharing those inspiring words, which allow gentle pause and reflection.

Kathy Melamed
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You make such a good point,

You make such a good point, Fran:  It is a great compass--to live each day well while minimizing regrets if we can.  Thanks for the reminder.  Be well.

dee unks
thanks Kathy for the

thanks Kathy for the wonderful reminder of the essence of love as so beautifully represented in the Giving Tree. It is a favorite book of mine as well and your blog has prompted me to reread it.

Kathy Melamed
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Isn't it fun to re-find old

Isn't it fun to re-find old treasures?!  Thank you for your comment, Dee.

linda treichler
love

It is an awakening to realize how simple the magnitude and the power of just plain presence is.

Stacia Ortega
Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Ronda Atkinson
I have always loved that book too!

This was one of my favorite books to read to my children! It is a beautiful story and Shel Silverstein was a wonderful author. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Linda Nine
The Heart of Caregiving

Kathy, thank you for "rediscovering" and sharing "The Giving Tree." What a wonderful reminder about all that is a part of giving/caregiving. Thanks to all of our wonderful staff who give each and every day.

Nancy Davenport
11th Hour

The best thing I have ever done in my lifetime other than raise my four delightful children. It is an honor and a privaledge to be holding the hand of our fellow beings as they cross the heavenly bridge. I am Blessed and honored.

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