Hello, Roos. In early March 2012, one month before Emma’s passing, I posed this question to a LinkedIn women writers group: “Caregivers: What are your experiences? As a sole caregiver for my mother, 97, who has dementia, I find caregiving to be spiritually life changing, among other things.” I thought it would be a good way to promote the book I had just published about Emma’s and my long journey through these turbulent nighttime seas.
To my astonishment, these writers’ response was overwhelming. I am profoundly touched by their caregiving experiences and their honesty. Comments flooded in from all over the world, from Camaroon and Kenya, from Turkey, from every continent. The discussion group continued for two years and gathered over 7,500 comments, until LinkedIn changed its group format.
The outpouring of comments and loving support is due largely, I feel, to the catharsis of caregivers being able to tell their stories to likeminded, sympathetic listeners – there seem to be not just one story per caregiver, but many and varied, at once sad and funny.
I had thought long that these caregiving stories needed to be told – not only for the caregivers but also for the suffering for whom they care, the ones who were once vibrant, leading vital lives like the rest of us, the ones who have lost their dignity, who feel trapped and that they have become burdens, the ones whose tickets have been collected, those just ahead of us in line. Scary, isn’t it. Lifeboats can sail only so far. But here in our group we had reached a safe harbor of unconditional love and support.
Early on our discussion group journey eight, extraordinary, caring women jumped onboard and the nine of us embarked on a lively, almost daily conversation, beginning with caregiving and writing and evolving into gardening, family, recipes and sometimes just downright silly stuff. Three years later we remain close friends.
The daughter of one of us works with kangaroos in Australia. Some of us sponsored kangaroos, therefore, and we began calling ourselves The Roos. Each of us took a color; for example, I am Turquoise Roo. We are all the colors of the iris, the rainbow, if you will, and the flower that represents spiritual evolution. We are far flung, living in New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Canada and on both coasts of the United States, North and South.
Although we talk on the phone and Skype, none of us has met in person, but all of us believe one day we will. Thelma & Louise dreams persist even among — or maybe especially among — us women of a certain age: a road trip in a VW bus (multicolored), winning the lotto, meeting in each other’s country as soon as the my private jet gets out of the hangar with the mechanicals fixed. I even thought of swimming to New Zealand from Delaware.
I had decided I was pretty much done with writing about caregiving, I thought. But my Roo friends wouldn’t let me drop anchor in that cove. They prodded me with the stem end of a deep purple iris to join them in taking up the A-Z Blogging Challenge for 2015. I didn’t want to go all back through my caregiving experience, but revisiting it has been enlightening and I have met some superb writers along the way.
I need to give a special nod to my three prodding Roo friends who have taken up the 2015 A-Z Blogging Challenge: Susan Scott, Garden of Eden Blog; Patricia Garcia, Everything Must Change; and Gwynn Rogers, Gwynn’s Grit and Grin.
Thank you, Roos, as always, for your continued unconditional love and support. Truly, without you I don’t know how I could have gotten through those last days with my mother and the months following her passing.
The words are stuck in my throat. It seems so long ago, yet longer while your mom was in hospice and close to passing over. I joined many writing groups before your title said, “You’re here Marsha”. My first message to you proved me right and I stayed with only one other group and the lady who began that group, joined ours. Yes “ours”! You made it all inclusive. The following month we grieved with you and your family and friends, although they were strangers to us. You no longer were. You were a friend, a bestie, and a new member of a late blooming family
Carol, you have been and continue to be giving a karmic, spiritual connection that all of us have reached out for. I don’t believe in coincidence. You were chosen by our Creator to wrap us in this incredible group of ladies who would unlikely have ever been brought together, due to our varied places of residence. What a dream come true to win the Lottery and meet someplace special (Sedona comes to mind because of it is a mid location and spiritual focal point).
For LinkedIn to drop our group only made our love and respect stronger. Thank you LinkedIn!! I have had no reason to return, nor the time. Between you wonderful ladies, my family and friends and other emails and posts, I don’t need another group (although I do have many). This is my group of love and light. The spiritual meals I receive here are more than enough to fill me. I have had to drop out three times, due to illness and/or accident and to return, all arms have caressed me with unconditional love and the essence of eternal closeness. I never left.
I am proud to be Coral Roo and love all of my Roo sisters!!
Thank you, Coral Roo, for the kind things you have said about me, and for filling in the details about our group, that I couldn’t fit into my brief post, and for pointing out that indeed we are a group of light and love.
The Power of Collective Thought — When we all imagine our meeting and express the intention, we are bound to meet. We must.
Light and love to you, and be well.
O my Samantha – poetic prose, thank you. I often think of we women the Roos, and fantasise almost daily about meeting up someday somewhere. Or my just hopping on a plane and visiting each individually for at least several days, walking, talking, drinking wine, seeing camels, kangaroos, gardens, irises, ducking pigeons in Paulsbo, meeting Moriarty, the Phantom, seeing cats, meeting Marsha, visiting Germany ..
I have a few good friends, two in the US, a few here in S.A. who I have to say I seldom see (and don’t comment on my posts – apart from Susan in Phoenix) – and I feel in my bones that we are really good friends to whom I can just be myself, no masks. This is what unconditional love is and I know that I am truly blessed.
And Samantha, well done for taking up the challenge, it’s been tough as we know! It’s wonderful too that you’ve met up with Hilary and Sara, both special people to whom I also owe thanks for their being supporters of our posts.
With love to you all, PogRoo (pale olive green Roo)
PogRoo, you have said it all so well about us Roos, and, too, my close friends outside the Roos, like you, don’t read my posts, most of them, or if they do, only Moriarty, my Phantom knows about them, because they don’t comment. That’s fine. I don’t read all the blogs and books I’d like to, either; though, I mean well. We’re all still connected.
As you say/dream, “several days, walking, talking, drinking wine, seeing camels, kangaroos, gardens, irises, ducking pigeons in Paulsbo, meeting Moriarty,” we must.
And, isn’t it wonderful, through you I have met Sara and Hilary. What a blessing and a joy.
The A-Zs, while intense, have led me into wonderful new worlds, ideas and friendships. Thank you so much for prodding with that iris stem. 🙂
How wonderful that you were able to find such an amazing support group. I’m thankful for them, because it has led me to finding your blog. Hopefully, one day you can all meet, and have many Thelma and Louise -esque escapades. 🙂
Yes, and through this group I met you and your delightful writing. You really do have a unique and special talent, and I look forward to reading each story. As I have said — book, please. 🙂
I totally agree with your warm loving comments. Yes, this group means a great deal to me. You all are special in multiple ways. I feel blessed to have found you and to be part of the group.
However, Vye and I have met as we had lunch together. And I’m convinced that you and I must have met years ago either on Camino de las Colinas, in Palos Verdes estates at the B of A, down at the Strand, or walking about the Hollywood Riviera. Life is so interesting as to what it throws our way… but invariably it also throws us a net for catching us.
Your post is poignant and heart-felt and you do mean a great deal to me, as do the others in the group. Thank you for bringing us together! Hugs, and love, Gwynn
Well said, Gwynn. I was going to say a lot of this in my post, but it kept getting too long, so I had to cut out a lot of it. Then I’d think of something else I wanted to put in and then the post got long and I’d have to cut that out.
I had forgotten that you and Vye met. And, maybe we did, too, back when, when there weren’t so many people in the South Bay. I banked at the B of A on Catalina, in the Riviera Village, though, not down on the Strand.
I may have started this thing on a whim, but it was each of who jumped in and committed to a deep and special friendship among us.
It is hard to put into words how much this group means to me. After the A-Zs, I will work on setting up Skype.
Hugs and love backatcha,
Hi sweetheart! My eyes are kind of wet too just like Pat’s. How well I remember our early conversations and emails. We have all come such a long way in the past three years. Cleansing, Hurting, Laughing, Loving and Growing…especially growing with such amazing friendships.
Love you always,
What a special and unique connection we Roos have, Val. And, as I just commented to Hilary, I could not finish these A-Zs without acknowledging the ones who gently prodded me into taking up the challenge.
Yes, we have all grown and come a long way. We are committed and we set examples for each other and support each other. So rare.
Love you, too, Little Blue Roo.
I have tears in my eyes. This article touched my emotions because you are so right we are the cheerleading squad for each other. There has been so many times when something you have said in our group has encouraged me at times when I was rocking in the bottom of the pit.
The Roos are more than fantastic, because fantastic can go away quickly. We are simply women who have committed ourselves to know who we are as we expose ourselves to each other.
I have learned so much in this group, and I am so glad to be a part of you all.
Right backatcha, Patricia. This has been an extraordinary journey. The Roos are fantastic women, individually, and each is a part of the whole. Our commitment to ourselves and to each other is a rare phenomenon among members of society today, I think — in this age of texting and fast food.
You are one of the best among the best, Patricia. Your kind wisdom and unconditional love has buoyed me along the way.
I would not be where I am now without the inspiration and support of the Roos.
Hi Samantha – I hadn’t realised this connection .. what a great one that is – to give you a wholeness. The Roos – no wonder … the name, colours and ideas are perfect.
Unconditional love at the end of a life is essential … I had two, thankfully both had their wits, but the love and care right through to the core is what is essential, absolutely essential and then the experience becomes positive, not sad …
Fantastic post – delighted to have read it .. and to you for letting us know about your group … cheers Hilary
Yes, our group is extraordinary, Hilary. I think we are still amazed after three years.
I think unconditional love was the biggest thing I had to focus on when taking care of my mother. I had to give that wholly or I would sink. There was no getting around it. And my hospice team and other aides gave the same, so I learned and grew. I carry that with me now. Unconditional love and a sense of humor got us through. Yes, and especially at the end of life. I’m realizing that for myself now, at 73.
Re our Roos, I could not write these A-Zs without acknowledging the ones who prodded me into it. 🙂 And through us, through Susan, you are connected, too.