THE GOOD LIFE
2007 "Give a Caregiver a Break" FIRST PRIZE WINNER: James
Photography by Fran Collin
My today is this very moment, along with all my yesterdays, and including all my tomorrows. It has always been and will forever be...today. Webster's Dictionary defines the word "caring" as "to feel interest or concern." In "Jimmy's Dictionary," the definition of "caring" is "love, compassion and understanding the needs of others, rather than one's own."
I am a caregiver to a very special friend, rather than a relative. I have known Ron since 1987, and we have been best friends since then. Unfortunately, his health has gone down hill since 2003. He suffers from severe COPD, is on oxygen 24/7, and is confined to a hospital bed.
My feelings have always been that, when one enters into the "golden years," they have the right for them to remain golden and untarnished. I am doing my very best to maintain that right for Ron. He has his TV, VCR and CD/DVD player in his room. I can't imagine Ron being in a nursing home, without the care and amenities that he has here. He honestly is a happy camper, right here in Bakersfield, California. He remains my best friend! He returns my efforts to care for him with a simple smile or a thank you. That's all I need.
When it comes to the satisfaction of being a caregiver, I know that what I am doing is the correct thing to do. That gives me all the satisfaction I require. With God's love and care for me—though I can never deserve it—how can I not care for others, like Ron, who does?
What can I say about my family and friends and how they have been inspired by this? Just come by my home and see how many people I have on my porch, enjoying life and love. As for friends, most of them are rednecks here in Bakersfield. In a mere four years, though, two of them have become caregivers themselves. What more could I possibly ask for? My family admires my persistence, even though I have my own health issues—a heart attack in 1989. My brother Bill, especially, has been 110 percent behind me for these past four years.
I do not consider myself a hero as regards my caring for Ron. My heroes are all the other caregivers out there, for all their love and efforts to help keep someone out of a nursing home, and to remain at home in a most wonderful and normal environment. You see, I have an ulterior motive here. When my wife passed away on April 15, 2005, it was a horrible loss for me. But Ron gave me a great opportunity to find the will to carry on. Life is good to us both!
—James Randolph, Bakersfield, CA
First-Prize Winner of $2,500 in free respite care
from Home Instead Senior Care