Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

The doorbell rang and I rushed downstairs thinking it was my neighbor. No one was there! I glanced down and there was a box of “motor oil,” and I knew immediately the package was from my mom and dad. Dad is an automobile mechanic by profession and anything that comes in a motor oil box is definitely from the “Rowley Ranch.”

My mom is an expert packer and care packages are her forte. The tradition started when I was in college, later as a missionary in Sicily, and then when we moved 3,000 miles away to the East Coast. As I carefully opened the package with scissors, I hummed the song from “Sound of Music”: “These are a few of my favorite things…”

When the Styrofoam peanuts fell to the floor, I unearthed treasures of “gold”: garlic olive oil, Gursky Ranch raw mixed nuts, jelly beans (49 varieties), Mama Leone’s Zuppa (minestrone soup—cooks in 20 minutes); Tres amigos Enchilada Stew, and See’s Candy—Molasses Chips in milk chocolate. These are a “few of Mark’s favorite things,” but he’s willing to share!

Mom’s note read: “A little extra nutrition to help your bones heal and aid in your recovery!”

My mom is the queen of care giving. She cared for her mom and dad when they had broken hips, and her spiritual gift is “serving.” She finds no greater joy than helping others in their time of need. What comes naturally to her, is something others have to “work” at. But she also knows how to care for herself. Oil painting is her “refuge,” just as writing is mine. She has taught me through the years how to care for me.

“Just as airline passengers are admonished to put on their oxygen masks before helping others, caregivers must look after themselves. Signs of overload include feelings of isolation, stress, guilt, depression, helplessness, anger, and resentment.” This past week, I have to admit I felt helpless because my “patient” started to do things he should NOT do, like climb stairs with his walker while I was out of the house.

Two days ago, I returned home to find that Mark had climbed (unassisted with his walker) up two flights of stairs to put clothes away. He thought he was helping me!

I had gone walking for 45 minutes and when I returned, my hubby was nowhere to be found. I discovered him upstairs putting away folded laundry. Anger set in. “What if you fell? How do you think I would feel?” I cried out. My hubby explained, “I was only trying to help!”

I had him promise me he would never do that again, and to make our agreement “stick,” I made him sign a contract.

Care giving is hard work and it takes a village of “caregivers” to assist along the way. Everyone is doing their part: my sons continue to mow the lawn, do the heavy lifting, assist Mark with his shower, and friends come to visit, and my mom sends us a “few” of our favorite things.

Together it makes a difference in recovery and we look forward to the day when we can walk hand in hand down the Mt. Gretna hiking trail…another one of our favorite things!

Technorati Tags:
caregiving, stress, mental health, National Family Caregivers Association, isolation
posted by Connie Pombo @ 1:03 PM 7 comments

At 4:53 PM, Susan Kelly Skitt said...
So my dear, it's easy to see where you've learned your art of caring and serving others :) Your mom is so sweet! And it's gotta be hard for your get up and go hubby to be kept down. It's great to hear how everyone is pitching in.

Praying my dear friend that you will be back on the trails soon.


At 6:13 PM, Connie Pombo said...
You and the boys will have to come up and go to the Jigger Shop (an old-fashioned ice cream parlor at Mt. Gretna); there's a lake, hiking trails, and a fun gift shop. Let's plan on it--okay?


P.S. Oh, did I mention a water slide and canoes?!?!

At 7:50 AM, Susan Kelly Skitt said...
Sounds like a date! Now, let's pick one :) Give me a call sometime this week, or I'll try giving you a call, okay?

Love ya and miss ya!

P.S. (That place sounds familiar - my grandparents have a cabin at Mt. Lebanon Campmeeting Grove. Maybe we can set it up for a time when my family in staying over at the cabin. I wonder if we could bring our own kayaks with?)

At 9:41 AM, Greg C said...
It's a constant battle for me trying to stop my wife from over doing it. She has a bad back but continues to take risks and do too much. I got on her yesterday when she was bending over to wash something that I could do. She tells me the same thing and is always saying "If I don't do it, it won't get done" I tell here to give it a try and see. One of us will pick up the slack. That's what a partenership is all about. You have a great Mom.

At 4:58 PM, Connie Pombo said...
Okey-doke! This is the week of follow-up appointments. It seems like I'm in the waiting room more than I'm at home. E-mail me your phone number, okay? I have it, but my office is in different sections of the house. I left the window open during the storm on Saturday.



P.S. Yes, bring your canoes. They have ones you can rent, but you can bring your own also.

At 5:02 PM, Connie Pombo said...
I hear ya Greg! It's been so hard keeping Mark down. Now that he's off pain pills, he has the energy with no where to go. His favorite line is from the Snicker's commercial: "Not going anywhere for a while?" Smile!

Your wife must have the gift of serving! But a bad back can put you out of commission for a long time! I know...Mark had back surgery while working for UPS when the boys were just 3 and 8. It was a LONG 3 months!

You two take it easy...moderation is my new word!

At 11:11 PM, Flea said...
OMG! I laughed and cringed when you said he climbed two flights of stairs alone with the walker. I was reading aloud to my husband and when I got to the part about Mark helping he said, "He was!". Arhg! Do you really think the contract will do any good?

Give your mom extra kudos for that tiny bottle of Tabasco. Is that the Chipotle? Yum!!!


Connie Pombo said...

Oh Flea,

So you noticed the little bottle of Tabasco sauce...isn't it cute?

A little goes a long way! (Ask me how I know?!?!)


Becky Wolfe said...

I just stumbled on your blog off of "California Breeze"'s blog where I visit frequently and thought I would say hello while I browsed thru some of your posts.

What a sweet 'care package' from your mom. How fun!

Nice that DH was trying to help but good thing you got that contract signed that he avoids doing that again :)

Connie Pombo said...


Glad you stumbled by...

The contract thing is something I learned from working in the medical field for 20 years; it actually works in marriages too (smile!).

I can't wait for the day when hubby's on two feet again (oh the things we take for granted until they're taken away!).