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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / A Truly Fine Day / Editorial List

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A Truly Fine Day

For the conference hosts, the day started as all conference days do, watching the parking lot and praying that the directions were good and the roads dry. By the end of our 2003 Sharing Wisdom conference this past Friday, the roads may have been dry, but the same could not be said for the eyes of the attendees.

We had little to worry about with regards to attendance, the parking lots were filled with the cars of family and professional caregivers seeking to share the day with others who also care for clients and/or loved ones. The day started with a question and answer plenary, which had caregivers, and expert panelists engaging in a spirited session of wisdom sharing that seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.

The speakers were extraordinary and we are honored to have them on our faculty for the day. Sessions covered the gamut from kid caregivers to caregiving for kids, grandparent caregivers, AIDS and caregivers, Alcoholism and caregivers, improving doctor/caregiver communication skills, (although I still think that we should have renamed that session “the Dr. Sean fan club meeting”) and sessions which helped caregivers deal with spiritual, nutritional and legal issues, as well as many others.

We celebrated the first annual Caregiver Friendly Award Winners and our fifth annual CareHeroes Award Winners.

But I must admit that the moment during the day that I am truly thankful for Kimberly- Clark for bringing a truckload of Kleenex® is when I was privileged to introduce the winner of the annual Robert. M. Barg Memorial Achievement Award and her father, Ms. Leeza Gibbons and Mr. Carlos Gibbons. I now understand from whom Leeza gets her warmth, humanity and showbiz talents. Carlos, Sr. touched the soul of each and every person at the luncheon with his unscripted and poignant dedication to his wife Jean, daughter Leeza and entire family. At one point Leeza lovingly yelled, “YALE”’, a reference to a joke Carlos told at the beginning of his talk relating to the quality of short speeches. I truly didn’t care if he ever stopped talking. He was touching, funny and true to the spirit of every caregiver in the room. We were also honored to have in attendance Leeza’s brother, Carlos, Jr. or Carl. I hope I am not hurting his standing with the South Carolina Bar by saying that he is a truly nice guy. Sister Cami stayed at home with mom so Carlos and Carl could join us for the day.

Then, just when we thought nothing could ever move us more than the Carlos’ words, Leeza got up and knocked it out of the ballpark. I had three friends come up to me later and tell me that the bathrooms were filled with people trying to regain composure and fixing running mascara. And when I returned to the office later that night, I had already received a handful of emails containing the exact same words ” not a dry eye in the place”.

I will forever be grateful to the 500 family and professional caregivers in attendance from around the country and the 3 special caregivers from South Carolina named Gibbons who shared their souls with each and every one of us on this truly fine day.

Gary Barg

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