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Living Life After Being a Caregiver for 35 Years

Meg Henderson Wade
By Meg Henderson Wade

I’m finding out how to live my life with a new normal.  My beautiful, red-haired feisty mother died last Sunday morning.  I had been her caregiver for almost thirty five years.  I was also the caregiver for my father the last five years of his life.  He passed away in May of 2017.

Now I am just beginning to learn to live a new life without both of my parents.  I am/was an only daughter with two brothers.  I was the caregiver for both of my parents until the end of their lives.  In 2017, when my Dad died, Dixie and Bailey had been married sixty five years!

Looking after my parents had become a full-time job and part of my identity.  It has only been a week since my beloved mother died, so I am definitely still in the middle of the grieving process.

What was her problem, you might ask.  Well, there were thirty five years of health challenges.  She had breast cancer, a mastectomy, chemotherapy and many other strange medical problems such as Legionnaire’s disease, lymphedema and many, many broken bones.  She had vertigo and low blood pressure and she fell a lot, I mean for over twenty years….

I moved back home from college to look after my mother when she had breast cancer and a mastectomy.  This was the time when Coca-Cola made the crazy decision to change their formula.  I was born in Atlanta and my mother’s name was Dixie.  Heck, I grew up loving Coca-Cola.  Change the formula???  Obviously it was a bad idea as they concluded when they reissued classic Coke.  Mom and I hoarded the little bottles of Coke in our basement and had a Coca-Cola party weekly!  Good memories!!!

Another great Dixie, Mom, story was when my Dad, Bailey, turned sixty five.  Dixie said, “I was going to buy your father a snazzy sports car for his birthday, but I just didn’t have the time.”  Now we weren’t rich by any means and we weren’t a family that could have afforded that.  But that was my Mom, she didn’t think about being practical, she just thought about how to make somebody else happy.  That was my Mom’s greatest gift–her generosity and love of life!

I will miss both of them so very much.  I will also miss singing along to 1940’s Big Band music with Bailey, my Dad.  At 75, he even made me mixed tapes of my favorite music from the 1970’s.  Singing and performing together was one of our greatest joys.

Thanks for everything Mom and Dad.  I was so blessed to have both of you as my parents for all these years.  I’ve got a new normal life to live because you both taught me so well.

Meg Henderson Wade
Meg Henderson Wade is a Motivational Speaker, Actress, Dancer, Writer & Published Author.  Her bittersweet life stories will touch your heart and your funny bone,  "Confessions of a Southern Baby Boomer--How I Survived Crack Cocaine Addiction,  the Mafia & other...Read More
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