Monday, August 9, 2010

Canaries in Combat Boots

Often as caregivers we are so anxious to improve an awful situation, we take a somewhat heavy handed approach, like a canary in combat boots. We forget that the 'other person' is wrapped tightly too, struggling with what may be an end-of-life crisis and in our own stress we push too hard, making things worse.

I was reading another care-giver's blog and direct you to it for some sane advice.

But it is a good reminder for all aspects of daily living, I remind myself. Recently I was tasked to help out a neighbor with his canaries, over 100 of them, as he and his wife wanted to take a weekend away and he discovered in conversation that I had had birds, loved them, and was able to care properly for them.

These lovely birds are delicate, but they are not weak. In fact, when offered uncooked corn on the cob, they act more like piranhas on meat than birds. They peck each other, shriek, chirp, flap their wings at their opponent and generally act quite aggressive for such small feathery things.

So what did these little creatures teach me this weekend? That putting food in front of them does not automatically mean they will eat it and my job was simply to provide it. Some of them were ravenous, but others were totally disinterested. It was not a judgment of me or my delivery. It was where they were at.

We can learn... whether as caregivers or as companions. There are boundaries we do not need to cross and we can save the combat boots for battles that really have to be fought by us for our loved ones. Just a thought.

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