UP FOR DISCUSSION: Is Caregiving anything like waiting for migrating White Pelicans?

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One of the many wonderful and breathtaking scenes anyone can enjoy for free here in Florida is the migration of the white pelicans north every year around this time.  I first discovered them in the pond behind our home many years ago; seeing them fish and frolic is something I look forward to each year.  An amazing sight, picture dozens of majestic white birds gracefully floating across the pond with every other more familiar Florida fowl either swimming with them in unison – only their necks sticking out of the water – or sitting on the shore watching the pelicans’ every move.  As they gently glide from side to side together on the pond, in unison they dunk their heads deep into the water and with their long bills scoop up mouthfuls of fish and gulp them down.  If you have never seen a white pelican, put it on your bucket list.  Much larger than their brown relatives, they have the size and carriage of a swan and when swimming look pure white except for the distinct and elongated orange beak.  But when they fly, spreading open their enormous nine-foot wingspan, the underside and tip of each wing is pure black.  Of all the magnificent sights in Florida, a pond full of migrating white pelicans, surrounded by their smaller and less splendid but highly curious onlookers, has to be my very favorite one!  Usually here late January through mid-to-late February, the sight of the white pelican means spring is just around the corner.  In Florida, this is one of the least subtle predictive signs of spring!

I realized this morning that we are nearing that time where I have likely missed seeing the white pelicans this year.  I know they have been spotted because I have heard others talking about them.  But, alas, this year they were not to frequent our pond … at least at a moment when I was able to spot them.  Even with one eye constantly trained out the window, my hope is waning that I will see them this time around.  This year I will just have to remember previous times where I was able to linger with them and maybe drag out old photos to look at.   And with that exact thought, my mind turned to caregiving.

I think that caregiving is a lot like waiting for these beautiful white pelicans!

  While busy with all the things that caregivers must do, I always harbor the hope that today will be a good day.  Today something good will happen.  Today will bring no new symptoms or surprises.  Today things will go smoothly.  Today will be peaceful and calm.  Today will bring one or both of us joy.  And with a heightened sense of alert, I watch for the signs; a smile, a ‘thank you’, a new connection or a meaningful conversation.  I smile because I know those joyful moments happen far more often than me getting to see the migrating pelicans and are just as exciting when they do.  And on the days when my hopes fall short, I know that I do not have to dig too deep for the memory of the last joyful sighting.  Like with the migrating pelicans, I look forward to the next sighting. But caregiving gives me that same hopeful anticipation every day … not just for six to eight weeks out of each year!  God is good!

Most things about caregiving are up for discussion.  What do you hope for daily while being a caregiver?  What are the signs that you look for?  How do you deal with the disappointments?  Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below.


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