Just last week, I celebrated my mother’s 103rd birthday! You may find from prior posts about my mother, that she is ‘my favorite girl in the world’. We were always ultra-close from childhood until her ascension.
Perhaps it was because I was her last child and because my father died 8 months after I was born. I don’t know, but our connection was strong, ride-or-die-strong’, and everyone in my immediate family knew it. She made it clearer than I did.
Caring for my mother for several years was a tumultuous experience emotionally, spiritually, physically, and logistically. We moved together across 3 states, dismantling and reassembling what we would call home, until our final destination in Denver, Colorado. She transitioned several months after our arrival, succumbing to cancer.
When preparing posts in general, I often think about them for days, weeks even, before writing them. Interestingly, the moral of my mother-caregiving story was summed up in Bob Marley’s lyrics one day. I am sure that this sounds strange, but I will explain.
At the time when I was catapulted into solely caring for my mother, in acceptance of my mother’s demand, I was earning a 6-figure income and was doing quite well. I worked as a senior systems consultant and entrepreneur. I had the usual spread of material possessions, luxuries, and investments.
Caring for my mother pulled me away from all of these things, my business, home, possessions, and creditworthiness. I had to ultimately file for bankruptcy because I could no longer work. My mother required 24X7 care, and I was determined to provide it, never to put her in a nursing facility.
The stress of dealing with my siblings, seeking social services assistance, and solely caring for her adversely affected my health. Emotionally, I was a bit of a wreck too. But spiritually, I was strong, very strong. My strength was in my Faith & Hope.
My mother nourished me with her spirit as I faced these trials while caring for her. Her spirit was the foundation of my endurance. She assisted me spiritually, as her only way, because she was frail and could not physically help me. But, she gave me so much wisdom, elevating my faith. She was vital to my ultimate spiritual transformation.
During times when I really did not know where to turn, she taught me how to truly trust God, and I don’t mean just talking about it. As I bathed her, groomed her, fed her, and handled her affairs, she feed me wisdom in sentences with very simple words.
My mother, Lil Eunice, did not have to explain the morals of Life Seasons in a complicated way. Her cliches and sayings were simple and to the point, and I clearly knew what she meant by each of them.
I advocated for her vigorously. She advocated for me equally as passionately, as I was often being challenged by a peanut gallery that would not assist in caring for her, and who wished to undermine my dedication and sincerity.
I had been contemplating about writing this post prior to my mother’s October 2nd birthday, which happens to be the Day of the Feast of the Guardian Angels. I felt as though I was her guardian angel in a sense. She gave me my Catholic saint middle name is Michael. Little did we know that I would be serving as her Saint Michael in her final years.
After a couple of weeks, I gathered a few media elements (images, videos, audio, etc.) for the post, but had not quite figured out the moral of my mother-caregiving experience and how I would convey it on Seasons As My Teacher.
Before my daily drive to the park in the morning, I texted a couple of friends with whom I communicate nearly every day. Afzal, who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of them. You may remember him from this post featuring his poetry, Through Struggle – Creating Profound Emotive Art.
The other friend is Saia, who lives in Costa Rica. You may remember Saia from the post Salute To Saia! Saia lives an incredible life contributing to acohol and drug recovery among our youth, and in educating young people. He is very dedicated and God-exuding. He comes from a family of ministers and missionaries.
Well, both Afzal & Saia are caring for their parents. I regularly acknowledged to both of them that the struggles of caregiving for their parents will be rewarded with their spirits and wisdom. I advised them to be strong, to endure, and expect to be spiritually transformed as a benefit for caregiving.
People don’t appreciate how special caregivers are. They give of themselves for the ones for whom they provide care, which includes giving up their finances, social life, personal care, friendships, and basic rest. But, like me, they have no regrets or complaints. As with me, I always held a sense of being honored to care for my mother, knowing that the elderly and sick often don’t want to be anyone’s burden, leaving them with feelings of despair. I never made my mother feel as though she was a burden even when I was burnt out.
Well, upon listening to Bob Marley’s Zion Train recording while driving to the park one day, it hit me! I figured out the moral of my caregiving story, and perhaps that of those who are having the same experience as Afzal and Saia.
In this song, Bob Marley (Zion Train) says:
“Which man can save his brother’s soul? (Save your brother’s soul)
Oh man, it’s just self-control (Oo-hoo-oo!)
Don’t gain the world and lose your soul (Just don’t lose your soul)
Wisdom is better than silver and gold.”
I played the song several times and realized that that was one of the morals, one of the most important morals of serving as my mother’s sole caregiver. I had silver and gold literally, along with otherworldly possessions, prior to caregiving. I gave it all up to care for my Lil Eunice 24X7.
Through this service, I gained priceless wisdom from the experience and people-interactions within it but gained even greater wisdom directly from my mother.
During my caregiving years, my mother transferred her spirit and wisdom to me. Now that she has ascended, I have been spiritually transformed, and have become exceptionally wise about Life Seasons, even seasons that I have yet to experience.
…She’s prepared me for seasons, as though she knew she was leaving me with these gifts.
Needless to say, I had to express very passionately to Afzal & Saia that, while serving their parents and God so sincerely, they are in the process of being spiritually transformed too. I may have spoiled it for them, but could not contain revealing to them that they are being blessed and transformed. I can see it happening to them before my eyes!
…For caregivers, too often, they feel unappreciated.
In this post, I share with you some of the simple wisdom, that my mother’s, Lil Eunice, shared with me. Kevy
Momma’s Simple Wisdom
My mother had a habit of reciting cliches of wisdom to all of her children. She was always busy. As I child, I remember her always doing something, cooking, cleaning, mopping, as she would preach her cliches. I miss that. I am not sure that mothers do this today, but for my mother, these very efficiently worded sayings said a lot about life and how to endure through its seasons.
Lil Eunice, A Tough Titty…
Want It Done Right, Do It Your Damn Self!
She used to tell me this as a child when I did not make up my bed or clean my room to her military-like standards.
I Was There For My Family
My mother repeatedly told stories about all that she sacrificed as a child for her mother and grandfather, having to quit school to work during the Great Depression. She reminded me that I, like her, was the sole one left to care for her mother and promised me that God would bless me for caring for her.
Prayers Never Fail – God Will Make A Way
My mother prayed heavily, from my childhood until her final years. I had to rejoin the Catholic church while caring for her to satisfy her religious preferences. We visited shrined, oblates, novenas, Stations of the Cross, and regular mass. I purchased several prayer cards for her and allowed her to select the prayers we would recite together each day.
Save For A Rainy Day, But Enjoy Life
My mother ‘could make a dollar holla.’ Because she grew up during The Great Depressions, raised nine children, and worked as a house cleaner for her entire career, she could ‘squeeze blood from a turnip.’ I really don’t know how she was able to stretch her limited income, yet still, attend and host social gatherings, looking like a rich white woman.
Be Tough…I’m A Tough Titty
My mother made it emphatically clear to her children that she was a strong woman, ‘a tough titty’. She said this to me, especially when explaining all that she endured through her Life’s Seasons. She was ‘a tough titty’ even in her final years. She worked until she was 89 years young, and lived much longer and stronger than peers, friends, and relatives never reaching her age. She made me tough too. Think about it, telling me that she was tough repeatedly made it impossible to wimp out while caring for her.
Don’t Worry About ‘Them People’
I really wish that I had learned this lesson when I was younger, but my mother taught me this, drilled it into me when I needed it most. I used to worry about my siblings, gossip, and lies during our rivalry, but my mother would remain calm though her care was at the center of the controversy. She would tell me, and tell others, “Kevin worries about them, but I don’t worry about them people”. Most often ‘them people’ were her own children and family members who worked to undermine my caregiving efforts.
Help People – ‘Don’t Worry About The Money’ – ‘That’s Why The Lord Blesses Me’
My mother used to repeat stories about growing up during The Great Depression. In addition to emphasizing that she gave up school to care for her mother, and grandfather, she never failed to mention how her mother told her to help people, “and don’t worry about no money!” She would say, “that’s why God blesses me today.” After my mother transitioned, I kept myself busy for years helping others. I’ve always been generous to others, but after watching videos of her giving me this advice, it took on a whole new meaning. Since then, I continue to volunteer my services, expertise, money, and gifts to others, including individuals, groups, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. And guess what? She was correct. The Lord blesses me today!
Don’t Ask Nobody For Nothing, Nothing
This one made it a bit more challenging for me as I cared for my mother. You see, I was worrying about agencies and others not helping, but I believe that my mother wanted me to be tough as she was, when in similar circumstances. I don’t believe that I was as tough as she was, but believe she wanted me to tough it out without asking “nobody for nothing.” This video explains it all.
Momma Said Don’t Ask Nobody For Nothing! – Aug 5, 2020 – Seasons As My Teacher – Kevy Michaels
Keep Busy – Idle Mine Stays In the Devil’s Workshop
As a child, with nothing to do, my mother would always find chores around the house for me to do. She was always busy. She was a house cleaner; therefore, she felt an obligation to keep her 14-room historic home spotless. She would have me and my siblings washing windows (there were 36 7-foot-high windows in our home), polishing hardwood floors by hand, and even helping prep the gumbo ingredients. This thought was branded on my brain, “An idle mind stays in the Devil’s workshop.” As I took care of her, I got little rest for 5 years, cleaning, renovating, gardening, and taking her on outings. Today, I am much the same way. Each day I have my hands in several concurrent projects.
Honor Your Mother and Your Days Shall Be Long
This is something that my mother stressed not only to me but to my siblings and to our immediate family. She took immense pride in repeatedly telling us that she gave up going to school during The Great Depression to care for her mother and grandfather. She’d never leave out the punchline, “That’s why God blesses me today!” She subtly told her children that they should equally be there for her. She was saying this very subtlety. It seems that I was the only one who heard it loud and clear.
A new broom sweeps clean.
With this saying, my mother conveyed that in the beginning, people do everything right. They are like a new broom. And they, therefore, sweep clean. But, after they get like an old broom, after you’ve known them for a while and get comfortable with them, that’s when you will see their true colors.
I wear the “Big Drawer” around here!
This one says loud and clear, I am the boss of this house, and don’t you forget it!
Use your head for more than a hat rack.
You better think! Use your brains. Figure it out. There is always an answer…always.
When There Is A Will, There’s A Way
I love this saying that my mother repeated, especially during challenging times, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I live by this principle, strongly. I do not believe that I have to know the answers, or “the way.” I need simply have the will, the desire, and intentions. I do not kid myself into thinking that I am God. Only God knows “the way,” never me! I have faith, will, desire, and good intentions, and let God manage the rest. My mother embodied this. Under the toughest of circumstances, she never worried about what was next. She simply trusted God. She used to also say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” This had the same meaning.
The horse that trots fast … won’t trot for long
This speaks, “Slow your roll!” This was my mother’s instruction to take my time and do things right the first time. This translates to, “God likes order”. Today, I try to execute my tasks and duties meticulously. I do so to a fault based on how I have seemed to aggravate others with whom I’ve worked. This saying reminds me that in the fairytale, the tortoise beats the rabbit in the end.
Nothing Beats A Failure, But A Try
This was a rhythmic way to say, “Never give up.” I would hear this from my mother as a child when I’d give the excuse that I couldn’t do something, without ever trying. She would ask the question, “Did you try?” Next, she would say, “Nothing beats a failure, but a try”.
A Note On Caregiving From Saia
Caring for an elder person is the best gift life could give you, though it teaches one patience, attitude, compromise, and unconditional love.
Being there for the ones who did everything for you during parenthood it is a blessing. Roles do change, and now is our time to provide, look after, and love our parents unconditionally.
Being able to live with them is even greater during their golden years. It is as you have a human history book at home that tells you stories of the past, which are real, and are zero fictional. Because they were there and can give you details about everything they say.
Who’s more blessed; I don’t know. But I do know, that seeing them almost fade away sometimes reminds me to find joy in today, the present. It all becomes clear. There’s a perfect season for all to grow, live, and die one day.
This is how I feel. Happy Birthday, Ms. Eunice. …Sending my love and great memories I cherish so
…To heaven on this special day, be at peace as she is today.
Love to both of you forever
A Note On Caregiving From Afzal:
My father does thank you, my brother and comrade Bra Kev 🤗
And he sends the warmest hugs to you ♥️
May God bless you, my brother and comrade, and know that your beloved mother and you are in our hearts and thoughts.
Thank YOU, brother, and comrade, for sharing these most precious of memories
Afzal’s Audio Comments
Happy 103rd Birthday Lil Eunice – Oct 2, 2021 – Seasons As My Teacher – Kevy Michaels
I filmed this footage on my Samsung S 20 Ultra smartphone on my mother’s 103rd birthday, at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Wheat Ridge Colorado, near the Rockies. Kevy
A Mother’s Wisdom – Jul 19, 2010 – Martha Williamson
For Mother’s Day, Martha Williamson shares how her mom’s favorite sayings have impacted her life and even kept her going when times get tough.
Wisdom From Our Mothers – May 13, 2012 – thcfwmedia
Wisdom and advice from some of the mothers at Trinity Harvest Church on Mother’s Day
Caregivers Must Be Selfish To Survive | Dave Nassaney | TEDx Wilmington Women – Jan 4, 2019 – TEDx Talks
Did you know that 30% of caregivers will die before their loved ones do? Many more will become sicker than the ones they care for, eventually needing a caregiver of their own. Everyone will eventually either become a caregiver or need a caregiver, so NOW is the time to learn how to become one, before tragedy strikes!
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