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.