Honoring Caregivers in Our Lives Throughout the Holidays

Last year was my grandmother's final Thanksgiving. She died in the spring of 2012 at the age of 98. Her cinnamon rolls will forever be a part of Thanksgiving memories for me for the rest of my life, as will her kindness and all of the hard work she put into taking care of my mother and aunt, who were born as premature identical twins in 1941.

My grandmother was a practical woman. She worked hard, never complained, and throughout her life, she worked from home while raising her daughters. Toward the end of her life, she slowly fell into a state of dementia. My mother and aunt stepped in to care for her, thanklessly responding several times each day to the same questions, repeated over and over by my grandmother who couldn't remember. And while they did this selflessly while remembering the love and care she had given to them over the years, she had a difficult time thanking them for their efforts, and for the efforts of nurses and hospice workers who helped her during her final days.

We were lucky my grandmother lived so long and healthfully as she did. She only had two hospital visits in her lifetime -- to give birth and to have a baseball sized tumor removed from her belly. Until she turned 95, she was extremely healthy, yet she still needed eventual caregiving. Most of us do, at some point in our lives. And we all know caregivers who work tirelessly, thanklessly, with little credit for their efforts by those around them, and often without understanding from colleagues and others in their lives who can't see their daily struggles.

As the holidays pass this year, we give thanks for many of the people in our lives and for the small and large things they do for us. This year, I'm proud to be participating in a holiday "Give a Care" campaign launched by the Center for Community Change. In a simple gesture of sharing a video to thank caregivers, we're sharing the message that caregiving is an important part of our society, from birth to death, in good times and bad. CCC created a wonderful video to share with caregivers, thanking them individually for all that they do.

We all have memories of caregivers and we all know people who work hard giving care to others. I'm thanking the caregivers in my life this year -- friends and families who give countless hours to others with often no payment beyond their own knowledge that they're doing the right thing for another.