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As a Woman and a Caregiver Perceived

Lots can be said about caregivers who are caring for loved ones. Most are positive in nature--nurturing, patient, longsuffering, kind, gentle. I'm sure lots of negative can be said as well. I don't need to list those words. The thing is, people looking into a caregiver's world only see the surface of reality. Close friends and family may get a glimpse deeper but they still miss many nuances of the caregiver's life.

When Bob got sick in 2017, we had only two years to prepare for what would be a long stint of illness. He retired September 2019, giving us over five years to date.

During that time, I got my Master's of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University. After that, I jumped fully into Bob's business, the premiere convenience store in Friday Harbor. Thankfully, I had two managers to carry us to the beginning of 2023 when I started working full-time again--on site and from home.

And I am certain as the sun will rise again tomorrow that my employees do not perceive me as nurturing, patient, longsuffering, kind or gentle. I'm sure, if you were to take a poll of them, they would have their own set of words to describe me and not many very positive.

I have to fire people, pull people into the office for talks, instruct, demand, as well as wipe away tears with a kick in the rear and a smile on my face.

"Are you done crying, now? Yea? Then, back to work with you!"

At some level, I think it's different for men. Men have most always taken the helm in business. Male descriptors are tough and smart. Women's are bitchy and shrewd. So, why can't men be bitchy and women tough?

Which brings me to two things: yesterday was the end of Black History Month. A friend who is traveling some, sent this to me. It's something Sojourner Truth wrote long ago about being a woman, a black woman, yes, but a woman. A strong, tough, intelligent, creative, logical, beautiful woman. And aren't we women always that? And if you're a woman and you say, "Not always." Then, I say, shouldn't we at least strive to be exactly that?

I'm a strong woman who lifts and carries, wheels around, feeds, and who loves on her husband. But I'm also a business person who runs a business, runs a 3,000-square-foot house on a five-acre parcel of land, who makes all the financial decisions, all the health decisions, and who writes for a living too. I read incessantly, go to school, cook and clean, and I love my friends, my family, our pets, and I am devoted to my husband. I can do all that. I can multi-task. Is it because I'm a woman? Or am I a woman who simply knows what needs to get done and who does exactly what is needed?

I'm not weak. Far from it. Nor do I want to appear weak.

I've earned my gray hair, my backache, my rough feet. Don't think of me as weak please. I might just smite you on your left cheek and smite you on your right.

I am a strong woman who happens to be a caregiver but who wants to be seen first, as a child of God, then as a human being. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Just like Sojourner wanted.

God bless you all.

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Of all the words I might think of to use to describe you, no shading of the word "weak" is among them. "Appearances," I think, are highly unreliable things greatly colored by the observer; first, in that people often only see what they want to see, and second in that people often don't stop to really look. But that doesn't change the actual nature of the person being observed. I like to think of you as "Susan-El."


Jo szcz
Jo szcz
Mar 01


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