When our loved ones die and we’re finished caregiving, we mourn the loss. And yet, so long as we remember those who have left us, they live on in our minds and hearts.
Loved Ones Leave a Legacy
Loved ones live on:
in our hearts.
in our memories.
in our stories.
in our actions.
I think about Chilo and the lessons I learned simply by her being who she is.
Nearly one year after we gathered in Mexico to celebrate Chilo’s 80th birthday, she had to be hospitalized. This was the second or third time, due to multiple health complications. As was customary for all hospital admissions, she received a COVID test. It was positive. She passed away on November 1, 2020, and her family was not allowed to be with her in her final hours.
The family will gather in Mexico, next month, to attend mass and inter her ashes in the family plot at the cemetery. (She was cremated due to Mexico’s policy regarding those with COVID.)
I adopted Chilo as one of my moms.
I called her “Mama Maria” for two decades. Then, while preparing for her 80th birthday and celebration of life in late 2019, I began calling her Chilo as her family did. During her December 2019 celebration of life, I delivered a tribute. It included a fabricated story about my being her first-born… before she was married! She had a good sense of humor and loved it. The family breathed a sigh of relief to know I was joking.
Chilo taught me by living her values even when they hurt.
- Chilo’s family was number one. She drew on fumes of inner strength, despite periods of weakness and joint pain, to cook meals and clean, and help care for her grandchildren.
- Chilo was a devoted caregiver despite her own emotional pain. She cared for her late husband who lived with cancer of the jaw and struggled to eat.
- I still think of her when her daughter Rosa makes her signature salsa. I am gaining confidence to make it, too. (We’re talking Mexican salsa made by an Armenian. Intimidating, to get it just right!)
- Her secret mole sauce for tamales is the reason it takes so long to make them so tasty, like hers.
- “Lista,” she’d say when we did something, she thought was smart, clever, or well done. She uplifted those in her presence with encouraging words, a nod, and a smile.
- There are more lessons I learned; however, the most important was I felt part of her family. After all, I was her favorite. Uh ohhhh. I may have to answer to this next time the family gets together.
When one dies, we are sad. We can no longer hug them. We can no longer hear answers to our questions. Yet, they leave a legacy through their words, their deeds, and their example.
We don’t have to wait until we’re old and infirm or even until we die to leave a legacy. We can start now. It’s simple.
We Can Leave a Legacy, Too
Teach others, something new. Each time they apply what they learned; they’ll think of you.
Also see photo in Avadian’s Musings at the End of the Year.
The post When You are Finished Caregiving first appeared on The Caregivers Voice.