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How ‘bout you?

My friend Anita is a long-distance caregiver for her father Harold. Anita lives many states away and just spent the week in town once again, working to make sure that all is well with Harold. Without going into the specifics of Anita’s family dynamics, suffice it to say that each time she returns, she has her hands full with Harold and her relatives who live much closer, but do much less.

Back in high school, Anita was one of the first vegetarians among my group of friends. Whenever we went out to dinner, her plate was always filled with fresh and interesting looking foods—a fact which, when I related to her, she would say, “Okay. Now how ‘bout you?” I knew she was referring to my own meal which was piled equally high with grains, fish and vegetables. (Okay, maybe a large anchovy pizza and a pitcher of beer weren’t her idea of health food, but it met my definition.)

The challenge Anita faced with Harold’s care during this latest trip home was making sure that he was eating nutritious meals, as opposed to grabbing fast food with local family members. I know that these repeated visits home have been stressful for Anita; but at the end of the day as she walked into my house, I began to wonder just how much stress she was facing. She came in laden with grocery bags filled with goodies from the local grocers. Among the cookies and candies that tumbled out of her bag were two cartons of ice cream and four bags of chips. She was on her way to breaking the first rule of Fearless Caregiving—that caring for yourself is job number one.

I couldn’t help myself as I turned to her and asked, “Okay. Now how ‘bout you?”


Gary Barg

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