A Teen Caregiver

I’m taking a memoir writing class with B. Lynn Goodwin at www.writeradvice.com and one of the first assignments is to write about where I’ve been. And I realized something I had never thought about. In the 1940’s I was a teen-aged caregiver.

When I was almost twelve my mother gave birth to my sister who weighed two pounds. She was in an incubator for three months and the day she was supposed to come home from the hospital I woke up with Measles.

She came home, and my life was never the same. She cried all the time, and as she grew older she started smelling everything and everybody. The few times my friends came over, they snickered and thought my sister was a freak. Soon they stopped coming, but my sister continued to smell everything that came in her way. People, things, food, and I guess my Mom and I got used to it. During these first years my Mom came down with a nervous stomach. Many times I thought she was faking. She would throw up, then eat. Desert first, then food. Remember I was still a kid, what did I know?

When school started someone noticed that my sister could not see!!!  It wasn’t till years later that they discovered many preemies were given too much oxygen and many of them became blind.

I just never thought of myself as a caregiver, but I was. I had to be home to help take care of my sister, help clean and cook and soon my friends stopped asking me to join them after school. Weekends, I usually had to take my sister with me, and that was not fun. Funny that I never realized until today that I was a caregiver during my teen years.

Many kids are caregivers. Look out for them, help them, encourage them to write out their feelings, to talk to someone about their situation. It might not change for them, but it could change their perception of life. Just so someone understands what they are going through.

Adopt A Caregiver! Man, woman or child. They all need our help. Tell them Helene sent you.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene