FEB. 9, 2019



Lessons on Love in the Month of Love



Love – what is it? It’s an age-old question, the meaning and mystery of love. All of us have experienced it, tasted it, and felt its awesome power as some force warmer than the sun and beyond the beauty of rainbows.

Some of us have become masterful in the art of love, basking in its glorious rays; while others, still feel its bittersweet sting over a love lost.

Love is the heart in poetry, music, cinema, dance, the arts. It is everywhere. People who have it, guard it as treasure; people without it, become treasure hunters in pursuit of it until their very last breath.

The Joshua Tree is said to point in the direction of heaven or where love

can be found. The paradox is the Joshua Tree’s multi-pronged branches twist, turn, and point to every way possible. The wisdom to be taken is that love can be found in almost anywhere; and that we are all in fact forests upon never-ending forests of Joshua Trees.

While February is known as the month of love because of Valentine’s day and usually associated with romantic love, there are many other expressions of love worth celebrating.

Love Is Resposibility

A philosophy professor told his students what he believed love is. He said, “love is responsibility.” The cylinders of students’ brains revved trying to process what he said. Certainly, his definition of love doesn’t match the conventional romantic ideal. It seemed dry, lackluster, and boring. These are college students whose experience of love were just beginning.

For much older, nontraditional students taking his class, their heads nodded in agreement. They knew exactly what he meant with love as being beyond a “feeling” triggered by euphoric brain chemicals. It comes with responsible action.

“Love and responsibility,” the professor said, “are inseparable.”

Stories of Love And Sacrifice

Caring for elderly parents.

Beth Hoban shows her love for her mom by caring for her. “It takes organization skills and patience mixed with unconditional love to care for your own parents,” she said.

Hoban described her mom as a survivor of domestic abuse, woman entrepreneur, innovator and single parent who raised four daughters. She says her mom was always independent and a world traveler.

But things changed when her mom suffered congestive heart failure at 90 years old, then fractured her right arm at age 93.

“She cannot feed herself or bathe without help. Fortunately, she can walk with help to use the bathroom or from the bedroom to the living room with short stops to catch her breath.”

Hoban shares how a simple task as taking her mom out takes planning and preparation.

“We have to make sure she is able to get out of bed and washed up before getting her dressed. Besides her heart condition, mom has arthritis, which causes joint pains, so joints need to warm up before she gets up. It takes a few minutes of stretching and warming up of the knees prior to getting out of bed. We have to plan for a 2- hour prep time vs 30 minutes, if we want to make an appointment on time.”

Hoban works full-time time as owner of a small home healthcare organization that cares for the elderly, so she knows what caregiving involves.

“I hired a loving caregiver who takes care of mom most days of the week. My youngest sister shares the task on the caregiver’s days off,” said Hoban.

She advises: be prepared and have financial resources to cover expenses for care when your parents will need it.

Hoban says caring for her mom has taught her a lot about herself. “I learned that I can be flexible and patient. I also learned that it is important to take care of yourself, so you are able to be an effective caregiver. When you are tired and have less than normal sleep, you have to reach down deep to get that extra energy it takes to be the ‘super hero’ for your parent. Yes, Spiderman has nothing on the caregiver for a parent.

“We treat every day as our last day. Every moment counts. We make the best of what we can to offer love, respect and joy to all who are part of our lives, especially our parents. To us, it is mom, our only living parent.”

Lea Santiago of Pearl City has been a nurse for over 20 years. Her mother Hermina passed away six years ago and her father Pablo now is in his early nineties living in his Foster Village home with a grandson. Pablo had been hospitalized twice for a heart condition and is weak. But Lea said he insists on living in his own home but has difficulty caring for himself.

“Every day after work I visit my dad. My other two siblings also visit on a rotating schedule so he is never really alone for a long time. My nephew is there at nights so no one else needs to stay overnight. On the weekends, I bring dad over to my house where we can keep an eye on him.

“When I visit him on the weekdays, I keep everything clean, make sure dad is clean and feed him. We watch TV together and try to keep him in good spirit and talk about the good old days. Most of the times he is alert and can carry on a conversation.

“It’s very sad to see him so physically weak. His mind is still very functional. I’ll do anything I can to make his last days, comfortable days,” said Santiago.

Pablo recently qualified for hospice care and the family continues to give him all the love they can.

Amelia Asperin of Waipahu and her husband are both retired seniors but still have enough strength and love to care for their 92 years old mother.

“My mother-in-law has dementia. She has a hard time communicating. Sometimes we don’t know what she wants or what she needs, or feels,” said Asperin.

Fortunately, Amelia has greater insight and experience than the average person in caring for people. For many years she worked as a caregiver to the elderly with disabilities.

“My husband and I care for our mom because we are what she needs. We want to give back to her the love, care, and sacrifices she has made for us.

“I love caring for her because without her, my husband would not be here. I thank her for our family.

We could have brought her to a care home, but we know that she would be lonely there. Caring for an elderly person is really hard. It needs 24/7 attention. You must feed them, bath them, and do everything for them. But in our case for our mom, we do all these things with all our heart, even though it is challenging.

“Loving and caring for my mom with dementia is rewarding when I see her smile,” said Asperin.

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