Stories

CaringBridge Founder: Hug Your Mom Every Chance You Get

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone
My Mom Bonnie

I am standing next to my Mom, Bonnie, in this family photo from fall 1990. I was pregnant with my second son; this photo was taken 7 years before I launched CaringBridge.

My Mom, Bonnie, has been gone since 2001. She didn’t get to see any of my three boys graduate from high school, or college. I miss her all the time, and today I am thinking about how she would have been first on the dance floor at the wedding of my oldest son a few years ago. It makes me smile.

I Wanted More Time With My Mom

Breast cancer, followed by liver cancer, swept Mom away long before I was ready to let her go. I wasn’t done memorizing the sound of her voice, or all the funny things she used to say. I wanted more time to ask about her childhood, her career, her marriage.

And, oh, she would have loved living close to the new version of the Minnesota Vikings Stadium, cheering at top volume for the Green Bay Packers.

I Had the Honor of a Long Goodbye

But as the primary family caregiver for Mom in her final years, I had the honor of a long goodbye. I had a chance to really connect with Mom, as did many of my friends.

They still talk about how she “lifted them up,” even as her own strength diminished. Being Mom’s caregiver was among the most magnificent gifts of my life.

Bonnie dancing

My Mom, Bonnie, on the dance floor at a family wedding

Not to say there weren’t moments. As a retired nurse, Mom preferred giving care to being cared for. My hospital corners left much to be desired, as did the overall running of my household at the time.

Picture this: I was working full time, on top of checking homework, writing checks, cooking dinner, packing lunches, folding laundry and driving soccer, baseball, track and football carpools. (It was those young years, when my boys were trying out everything!)

Mom often rode shotgun in the minivan, among the muddy shoes and sports equipment, so I could get her to doctor appointments, the pharmacy and the bank.

I Was Daughter and Caregiver

So many years later, I saw myself in the mirror, with publication of the seminal report, Caregiving in the United States, 2015, by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Turns out the profile of a typical family caregiver, among the 43.5 million Americans who identify as “caregivers,” looked just like—me.

During the years I supported Mom, I was just inside the margins of being a 39-year-old woman, working full time, and taking care of a 68-year-old female relative who needed ongoing assistance for a long-term physical condition.

My Mom, Bonnie

My Mom, Bonnie with my nephew Andy, in June 1987

Yep, I fit that particular demographic. But from my seat as founder of CaringBridge, where a website is created every 6 minutes—often by caregivers, on behalf of patients—I see no “typical profile.”

Wives support husbands, parents support children, siblings, grandparents, cousins, in-laws, friends and neighbors take care of each other.

Caregiving is a Gift

Since I launched CaringBridge in 1997,  I have observed countless combinations of caregiving. And the only theme that runs through, and true, is that caregiving is a gift.

Sometimes the gift is obscured, especially when you’re heads-down counting out pills, paying bills and wondering how you will survive the day.

The Sun Shone on Both of Us

But the gift peeks through. An image sticks with me, still sharp after all these years: While my two oldest boys were in school, Mom and I would take Jake, my toddler, to the playground. Mom and I would sit side-by-side on a bench, my arm around her.

We smiled and laughed at Jake doing all the fun stuff 3 year olds do. I will never forget how it felt to be so close to my Mom, as the sun shone on both of us.

Whether you are a daughter, son, mom, dad, sibling, or caregiver, in any fashion, I wish for you, at some point in your life, a gift of love like this. It is what life is about.

CaringBridge: Here When You Need It

I updated my Mom’s CaringBridge website throughout her treatments for breast cancer and liver cancer. She loved reading the comments from family and friends. CaringBridge is here for you, too. Start a CaringBridge website today.

Sona Mehring founded CaringBridge in 1997. She is also the author of the book “Hope Conquers All.”

 

Comments

Post a Comment

Sharon Berry May 11, 2017 8:31pm
Beautiful tribute Sona! Thanks for sharing!
Nancy Johnson May 11, 2017 10:11pm
Very nice! Miss her too!!
Nicole Rood May 11, 2017 10:52pm
Just Beautiful!!! I loved my sweet Bonnie.. she was always just full of smiles and laughter 💕
ardi Iretin May 12, 2017 7:16am
So beautiful and yes I would not have had it any other way being able to care for Michael and be able to have a long goodbye. Boy did we always have a fun time camping with Aunt Bonnie😂
ardi ireton May 12, 2017 7:18am
So beautiful and yes don't regret having that time with Michael and being able to have those talks and say good bye
Sheila Storm May 12, 2017 8:45pm
Hi Sona, I did not know you started this. My former boss from Rochester told me about this after my husband fell 3 stories back in 2008. I believe the prayers from all the connected people made a big difference in his recovery. Lovely memories of your Mom. As you were able, we had time to say goodbye to my mom in late 2015. God bless you for the love and support you gave your Mom and I wish you a blessed Mother's Day.
Penny May 13, 2017 12:10am
Sona , I agree with you. Please everyone, Hug your Mom every chance you get. Penny
davidwilliamslack May 14, 2017 8:32pm
I can only find this space to tell my immediate family, namley Eric and Daniel how incredibly honored you have lifted my soul and spirit of healing in such a positive field as caring bridge has been for my direct process of healthy healing. I am in awe of your gifts and how you honor me so well . No words come to mind but love and thank you! For our friendship and brother-hod! I'm in awe and honored! Thank you! For all you do to hold my hands! In warmth of tears that are free- flowing and grateful to you both!