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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Alive and Kicking /  Editorial List

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 Alive and Kicking

When people ask why we at Today’s Caregiver magazine and have been as committed to hosting live events around the nation over the past 15 years as we are, one story (among many) comes to mind.

A few years ago, we were at the Union League in downtown Philadelphia. Our keynote speaker was the remarkable Della Reese and we were surrounded by original portraits of our nation’s presidents hanging on the mahogany walls in this refurbished 17th century meeting house.

Late in the day, a caregiver who had sat silently for most of the event raised her hand to speak. As she stood, she told us that her mother was in the hospital getting prepped for surgery, but she knew that being with us was too important for her own well-being to miss. She went on to say that she was the sole informal caregiver for six of her senior neighbors, and that she had suffered two heart attacks in the past two years as well as out of control blood pressure. As I hugged her, the audience took turns giving her advice on caring for herself. A caregiver from across the room stood up and said, “I live in your neighborhood and from now on, you’re not alone.” Tears flowed from every eye in the room. At next year’s event, I recognized these two caregivers, who had become fast friends, sitting next to each other at a table. Each one spoke in turn about their accomplishments caring for their shared neighborhood over the past twelve months. The entire room was spellbound.

There are two more anecdotes about that particular event with Della Reese that I would like to share with you. The first was that three weeks after the event, I received an email out of the blue from a family caregiver who was bemoaning the fact that no one in her community could ever know what she went through as a family caregiver. Furthermore, she was convinced that she was absolutely alone in her fears and concerns. The moral of that story is that she lives not three miles from the Union League, the site of the conference. The second was our amusement during the event as a caregiver would constantly refer to Della Reese as Ella (as in Fitzgerald). Finally, Della was moved to say in her rich mellifluous voice, “Honey, Ella’s dead; my name is Della and I’m still here.” Amen to that.


Gary Barg

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