The Truth About Heroes

Anita Strawn de OjedaI’m linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and the Five-Minute Friday flashmob—our goal? Write for five minutes about the word of the week. I confess that this week, I wrote for a little longer than five minutes.

The Truth About Heroes

I used to have an addiction to People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight. I loved knowing the latest scoop about the heroes of American culture. Movie stars. Sports heroes. Rock stars. Super heroes.

But not any more. While those people may be heroes to some, my definition of a true hero consists of this: a family member who sets aside or delays his or her life goals, aspirations, plans and desires in order to care for a loved one who needs above normal care.

Heroism doesn’t consist simply of a single deed or heroic act. True heroism lies in daily doing for someone else what they can no longer do for themselves. The truth is, our American culture doesn’t recognize those who plod along, daily doing for others.

It’s not sexy like a movie star to change a loved-one’s Depends throughout the day. There is no jubilation like a touchdown at the end of the day for a mother who has to quit her job to take care of her adult daughter who suffers from a traumatic brain injury. No one pays big bucks like a rock concert to read about the quotidian life of a caregiver who cares for a spouse with Alzheimer’s. While masses of people line up to buy tickets to the latest movie about super heroes, it wouldn’t occur to them to think about the super heroes living next door or down the street.

Our country has designated November as “National Family Caregivers Month.” What will you do to show your appreciation for a family caregiver? The truth is, caregiving often overwhelms the caregiver because of isolation and despair (a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a special needs child often don’t understand the simple act of thanking those who care for them).

You don’t have to give a family caregiver a free trip to Florida to show that you appreciate all that they do for their loved one. Try one of these simple, low cost ideas for showing your appreciation to a true hero that you might know:

-Send them an encouraging message (on Facebook, in the mail, via text).
-Buy them a gift card to Starbucks and offer to take over the care for an hour or two.
-Bring a meal to the house.
-Offer to run errands.
-Buy them a funny movie (because laughter is good for caregivers, too).
-Make a habit of checking in with a caregiver once a week and listen to them.
-Ask them how you can help.

If you’re a caregiver, please comment on ways that you would appreciate help (everyone is different). If you know a caregiver (if you’re not sure of the definition of caregiver, click here), leave a comment about your commitment to do something for a true hero this month.
If you’d like to join the flash mob, click on the button! Five Minute Friday

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Thank you so much from a caregiver to my parents. Very appreciated, it is a loving and difficult role in life. I agree that it is completely undervalued.

    Acknowledgment and the offer to help, to give the caregiver an hour, a day, a week off. Now that would be priceless.

    • Anita Ojeda

      What an insightful suggestion, Heather–so many caregivers go unacknowledged day after day! Just to have someone recognize that we ARE caregivers and life can be tough goes a long way.

  • I have a family member caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s. Your post is a wonderful reminder for me. Thanks so much.

    • Anita Ojeda

      If we all spread a little love to the caregivers we know–they world will be a brighter place!

  • Hi! I’m visiting from Five Minute Friday. This was a good post for me to read. My mother is 70 and for her, age is manifesting itself as loss of memory. It’s manageable now but my siblings and I have begun having talks about caring for her. The talks are hard and the term caregiver has come up. I will keep your words in my heart as we continue along this journey. Thank you.

    • Anita Ojeda

      It’s so hard when the ones we love start to change before our eyes. May God be with you on your journey!

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  • We had a very nice lady who delivered dinner to our house one day a month while I was taking care of Richard. Simple foods that he could eat and always a treat for the kids. It made me feel so loved by someone that I barely knew. But my biggest treat during my caregiving times was when someone just came to visit. Sit down, don’t be hurried or harried and gave me their full attention. I could always leave. Richard like me right there. But it would do me worlds of good just to have another adult to talk to. We were always the last visit of the day for our Hospice nurse and she would often stay for 2-3 hours; just to visit. I miss her so much. Too bad the visits stopped with Richard’s death
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    • Thank you for sharing your story, Paula. Sometimes, people don’t know what to do to help, despite a deep desire to DO something. You’ve given some great ideas! That’s so cool that your hospice nurse would stay and visit with you! I bet she’d probably love it if you invited her out for coffee!