“Promise me you’ll
care for your father
when I’m gone.”
That’s what Sarah’s mother
said as she lay dying.
For ten years now
Sarah has faithfully watched over her father
as he has grown older and more feeble.
A year ago, unable to live alone any longer,
he moved in with Sarah and her husband.
All three get along well, mostly.
But Sarah’s days are now taken up
with the increasing demands of her father’s care.
She can seldom leave her home anymore.
She and her husband have lost their privacy,
much of their social life,
their freedom to travel.
She said to me recently,
“I want to be a good daughter.
I want to be true to my word.
But this responsibility is becoming more
than I can bear.”

It is one thing to be asked,
“Will you care for your father after I am gone?”
It is another to be asked,
“Will you care for your father in your own home,
around the clock, without assistance,
no matter how physically challenging it becomes,
no matter how emotionally draining?”
It is still another thing
to be asked the first question and,
out of our love or concern or desire to please,
we read into it the second question.
When we’re conscientious caregivers,
we take our commitments seriously.
We want always to act in loving ways.
We make sure to follow through.
But sometimes it happens that
the safest, surest, healthiest care
comes best from people who are specially trained,
specially equipped, and physically stronger.
There are times and situations when it may become
not just unwise, but potentially dangerous,
for us to remain the main day-to-day caregiver.
Potentially dangerous for the one in our care,
for the others around us,
for us as a dedicated caregiver.
Such decisions are not at all easy,
but they can be quite sound
and, ultimately, quite loving.

Click on this image to enlarge it. Then right click to print it, send it to another, or use as your desktop wallpaper.

Please select this LINK for a printable version of this image.

One Response to “Promises”

  1. Jason Says:

    Thanks for the poem. Just just printed it, framed it and put it up on the wall!


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