Work No Less

Emily Gillespie was an Iowa farm woman, wife,
and mother who lived and worked
in the last half of the nineteenth century.
She assumed the role of caregiver very young in life,
caring for her family of origin, her husband,
friends and neighbors,
even people she barely knew.
At the age of 48 she became chronically ill herself,
forced to depend upon others for all her care.
She wrote in her daily journal,
“To be helpless is so bad I can not tell how bad.”
Not long before she died she penned,
“To ask for every thing I want is surely
the hardest work I [have] ever done.”

It’s true that caregiving can be terribly hard work.
Yet we sometimes forget that care receiving
can be very demanding work in its own right.
It is hard labor to lose irreversibly one’s strength and abilities,
one’s freedom and pleasures.
It is nothing less than toil to become unavoidably dependent
upon other people,
especially those one loves
who have many other responsibilities in life.
It is drudgery to have little or no hope for improved health
or lessened pain or a normal life.
We as caregivers dare not forget that.

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