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The Most Romantic Gift of All

Did you have a nice Valentine’s Day? If you did, great! If not, no worries. You apparently weren’t alone. According to the National Retail Federation, only 51% of people even celebrated the day.

I don’t understand this. Relationships – whether they are with family, friends, or that “special someone” – are sacrosanct in my book and always worth celebrating. Yet they are so often taken for granted and sometimes even neglected when the busyness of everyday life takes center stage.

Nowhere does this happen most than when you are caregiving an elderly loved one, especially one with a challenging personality. Everything else seems to fall by the wayside, including relationships. It is so important not to let that happen.

I am beyond fortunate to have my significant other, Greg, the love of my life, in my life – through all the ups and downs of life pre-caregiving and now while in the throes of caregiving. I do my very best not to totally engulf him in my caregiving challenges, but there have been times when he has had to take a back seat to some crisis or other involving my mom, like it or not. But we do our best and work hard at keeping the romance alive, a challenge given that our relationship has been long distance (a whole ‘nother post for another day!).

Anyway, we were together for Valentine’s Day, and yes, I got the flowers and the card and the candy and the jewelry and the nice dinner. But the most romantic gift was none of these. It was 2 handouts he gave me: “Dementia Basics” and “Caregiver Burnout.”

Greg had mentioned that he had been attending a series of dementia seminars – his attempt to learn more about my mom’s condition and possibly pick up some useful information for me (thus the 2 handouts!). The sessions are one hour in length, on a Saturday, once a month. So far he has gone to 2 of the 4 scheduled). There is no other reason for him to be going other than his love and concern for me.

Isn't that what Valentine's Day - and relationships - are all about?

The dinner was wonderful. The flowers were beautiful. The card is in my closet. The candy is in my cupboard. The jewelry is in my drawer.

The 2 handouts are on my dining room table, waiting for me to read. To be honest, I don’t really know that I will learn anything new. And I anticipate reading them will be a little dreary.

But I will read them. And when I finish, I will have a warm feeling inside, knowing these were given to me by my sweetheart with a heart full of love.

For me, that is the most romantic gift of all.

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