At CAREGIFTED, we are lucky to have the opportunity to care for some of our heroes— weary caregivers who have sacrificed so much of their health, personal and professional lives to nurture a loved one over a period of years and even decades. For this post’s caregiver hero, we are pleased to introduce Joy, whom CAREGIFTED sent to Victoria, B.C. in June 2013 for a well-deserved one-week getaway. Read below for an excerpt of Joy’s own reflections on her responsibilities as a caregiver and what her getaway meant to her and her husband, Paul.

 Joy and Paul enjoying one of CAREGIFTED's favorite places, the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.

Joy and Paul enjoying one of CAREGIFTED's favorite places, the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.

“Being a caregiver means that your primary focus is always on others but especially when one of your children has many extraordinary and varied needs.

Parenting our 5 girls and especially caregiving for the one with multiple disabilities equals non-stop doing [and] non-stop thinking of her and her needs.

It is tiring in every way - mentally, physically, and emotionally.

There are endless to- do’s in addition to the everyday care associated with parenting: doctor’s appointments, therapies, meetings with teachers and school staff. There is always something additional to organize – care, medications, appointments, assessments, recreation, complex government services to navigate, and piles of forms to complete.

Just this year alone our girl with special needs required 3 surgeries and spent 26 days in the hospital – this takes a toll on everyone in the family, mom, dad, and all the sisters too!

...Long sigh...

We know that respite - time away and regularly scheduled breaks are important yet somehow respite becomes just something else to schedule and becomes buried in the list of things to do - overshadowed by the busy-ness of life and everything else.

 Then came our Caregifted Retreat– our gift of time – our time to just BE.
 Our week away was a time of rest, reflection, and relaxation in every way – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
All of a sudden our focus shifted – the only focus was on "being" vs. “doing”.

We were free to just be, surrounded by beauty, with no care for time, routine, or the needs of others – just free to be. We were free to enjoy “us” - as individuals, as a couple.

We enjoyed long walks, holding hands, breathing in the fresh sea air, listening to the birds sing as the waves lapped at the seashore. We enjoyed city life, people watching, window-shopping, and nature at its finest at all times of the day and night. We basked in the breathtaking beauty in the many different themed gardens at Butchart Gardens.

The Japanese Garden was my favorite – I could have stayed there for days, just soaking in the peacefulness and beauty of the luscious greenery with little bridges and stepping stones connecting the walkways amongst the trickling streams of water. As we walked through the gardens at dusk as the lights came on, I felt as if we had been translated into a Thomas Kinkade painting. It was raining lightly and as the water hit the ground and leaves around us, the light reflected off the
drops, enveloping us in a myriad of sparkles and beauty beyond compare – like heaven kissing the earth, surreal and yet better than any fantasy ever.

Our hotel facilities were top quality; we felt special and well-cared for. Our massages at the beginning of our week started us off right – feeling relaxed, pampered, and refreshed. Sleeping ‘til our bodies waked us naturally every day was amazingly wonderful. No schedules to keep, no worries for time – we ate, slept, played, walked, and rested when we wanted how we wanted – and we lacked for nothing: time nor money.

Yes, we missed our children and touched base with them daily but the weight of the responsibility was suspended in mid- air if just for these few days.

We felt light and free, so grateful and blessed. It was as if time stood still and slowed down for 7 days of just us. Just being.

We returned home to the responsibilities of time and routine feeling strengthened, relaxed, and re-energized for the busy- ness, joys, and challenges of family-life.

It was a gift beyond compare; time and resources well worth the investment in our relationship, marriage and us as individuals.

Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude to and Heather for making it possible - Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

Joy & Paul C.

Grateful Rested CAREGIFTED Caregivers

Thank you, Joy and Paul, for sharing your experience with CAREGIFTED and allowing us to help restore your strength and vigor! The important work you and other caregivers attend to on a daily, constant basis is the reason CAREGIFTED exists, and we are so grateful to be part of the greater caregiving community and to hear your stories.