Barbara Garwood: A Caregiver’s Life
These Long Summer Days
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” This line from Porgy and Bess brings back memories of long summer days when slowing down makes the heat more bearable and allows us to feel that ever so slight breeze. Summertime is the time to sit down in the shade of a tree or on the front porch and just be. My Granddaddy Koontz claimed there was always a breeze under the huge old oak tree in his front yard, even on the hottest day. That’s where we would sit with a lapful of freshly picked green beans that needed snapping or corn that needed shucking. Sometimes he would just sit and whittle, and we would talk.
While these summer days are challenging for caregivers (after all, they are LONG), they offer the opportunity to reminisce and create new memories with loved ones. When the days seem too long and you run out of ways to get through them, here are some suggestions for a memory-making good day for you and the person you care for.
- Eat a watermelon. Spread some newspaper on a table outside and slice it open. Make it simple and eat with your hands. You can wash up later. The cool water will feel good.
- Go out for ice cream. Take along a few damp paper towels in a Ziplock bag for sticky hands.
- Visit a nearby park and feed the ducks. They will love you for it.
- Find a farmers market or produce stand and pick up some green beans, limas, silver queen corn, or whatever looks good. Find a cool spot and start snapping and shucking. The smell of fresh vegetables will whet your loved one’s appetite.
- Talk to your loved one about what summer days were like in their childhood. Was there a swimming hole nearby? Did the ice truck come? How did they stay cool before air conditioning? Perish the thought!
- Sit on the front porch and watch the world go by. Appeal to your senses and ask your loved one what summer sounds like (frogs croaking in a nearby pond, far off thunder); what summer smells like (honeysuckle blooming, fresh-cut grass); what summer looks like (lightening bugs, morning glory growing on the fence); what summer feels like (bare toes in wet grass, sunburned skin); what summer tastes like (fresh sliced tomatoes, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream). Don’t forget to share your feelings, too.
- Have an afternoon tea, iced rather than hot. Serve with scones and summer fruit. Let your loved one help fix the tea and prepare the fruit.
- If it’s just too hot to be outside, retreat to the air conditioning and give your loved one a hand massage with their favorite lotion. Maybe they will return the favor.
- Put on a favorite movie and serve up some popcorn. After all, in the old days the movie theater was the only place in town with air conditioning.
As you find ways to get through these long summer days, remember to keep things simple and keep things slow. The time you spend as a caregiver will be much more pleasant for everyone.
And, maybe in the slowing down of summer, we find some of our best memories when we allow ourselves to be still and enjoy a peaceful kind of quiet.When I think back on it, my granddaddy was right. Under that shade tree, there was always a breeze. And the conversation and the quiet were just what we needed.
Barbara Garwood is the transitional care coordinator for Lutheran Services Carolinas. For more information about caregiving, call Trinity at Home at 704-603-2776.
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