We often don’t realize how much we are like our parents or our children are like us, until a picture provides us with the realization that the thing we thought was so cute they our child did, was not so very different than the things we did at their age. That very thing jumped out at me when I was looking at this picture of my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me holding our cats when we were little girls. I was probably about the same age then as my daughter, Amy Royce was when she, because of her love for her kitties wanted to hold the two of them at once. Because her little arms were not able to keep the kitties held around their tummies, they ended up being held around their necks. I was always impressed with those sweet cats, in that they did not scratch my little daughter for putting them in that precarious position, but rather seemed to understand that she loved them and that she was doing her best. I have seen cats scratch a child for less, but our cats never did.
Had I known then, what I do now, I might have thought to get a picture of Amy holding our cats by their necks, but while I thought it was very cute, and I have never forgotten it, somehow, I never thought to take that picture, and so the kitty events of Amy’s past live only in my memory files now. Nevertheless, looking at the picture my parents did think to take, I can see that the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree. Quite possibly, Amy got her kitty handling skills from her mom, since the neck seemed to be the easiest place for me to hold my kitties too, and since they don’t look particularly upset be the whole situation, I guess they didn’t scratch me either.
There are many ways that Amy is my mini-me, and this picture just goes to show that. We are alike in our personalities, and in the way we do things…although I must say I was surprised to find that when it came to handling cats, we were exactly the same too. What I find equally surprising is that our cats never took our clumsiness out on us. They just instinctively knew that we loved them very much, and that was enough for the cats. I can imagine that my mom and dad tried repeatedly to get me to hold the kitties differently, but somehow it always ended up the same…just like it did with Amy.
Cats can be mean, and scratch you for the slightest infraction of the rules of pet care, but I think that when they know that you are a little kid, and that you are doing your best, they tend to cut you a little slack. I don’t think I ever hit the cats or pulled on their tails, and I know that Amy didn’t either. Our cats just knew that we were their little human, and they loved us very much. That shows in the amount of time they spent around us, even if we were asleep. Yes, in pet interests, as well as many other areas of life, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Many people think that the elderly have nothing left to give to this world. They are pretty much done, and maybe even waiting to die, right? I couldn’t disagree more. I have been a caregiver since 2005, and while there have been challenges and sadness, the overall experience has been very rewarding. While there have been times when they are irritable, or even downright grouchy, I have found that if you will just walk a mile in their shoes, you will walk away with a new understanding of what they are going through and why they might have mood swings.
I have also found that if you take the time to listen to things they have to say, you can learn a lot about their lives while you are caring for them. These people have live in times that we have no idea about, and listening can teach you a lot about the past…a past that is your heritage. So many of my stories have come from just such talks about days gone by, and I will be forever grateful for having been given the opportunity to hear about it. All too soon, these people could be gone, and with them go all the stories they have stored in their heads. If you have that opportunity, I strongly recommend you have a talk with your parents or other aging loved one so that you can see what it would have been like to walk in their shoes.
Last night and this morning, I found out what it really is like to walk a mile in their shoes, when I experienced a headache that just would not go away, and would not allow me to even think much. My neck was out of place, and after my Chiropractic appointment, I felt much better. Still, it was an eye opener for me, because the one thing a caregiver can’t do, is feel the pain of their patient. For days now, I have been and probably will continue to try to minimize the back pain my mother-in-law feels in an effort to get her to continue to walk. She experiences pain in the low back and would love to get out of walking, which is something I can’t allow, hence the need to minimise. I doubt if she will believe me when I say the it is not so bad, but with Alzheimer’s disease, she will also not remember it later….a very good thing. Nevertheless, I will do whatever I can to minimize it, because after the horrible headache I had last night, I can honestly say that I have walked a mile, or maybe two, in their shoes.