Friday, August 16, 2013

Guest Blog: The Caring Sister in Law

 Today's Guest Blog starts off the inspiring, empowering women series. Given to me by a friend, who wanted to honor her sister in law and what she did for her during a trying time. Truly a heartwarming story that reminds us all to take time to care.

My sister in law is 16 years younger than me. She and my brother started dating, became serious and married during the five years I lived out of state, so they were well established by the time I moved home. Having only met Bri a few times before moving home, I had a fair amount of trepidation about how we would get along, mostly due to the age difference. I don’t always relate well to the generation that was born straight into the matrix of modern technology; those who have no idea what it’s like to have a face to face conversation without also having a text conversation with someone else while posting their every action on fb at the same time (I’m not an old fuddy-duddy, but I do believe in manners, and find those actions a bit rude at times). Bri is “one of those”, but as I came to find out, she is thankfully so much more.

My Grandparents, mostly my Grandmother, spent from early June 2011 to November 2011 in and out of the hospital, and I was their power of attorney and primary caregiver. It was an extremely stressful period, as I had a few other negative and time-consuming things going on in my life concurrently (they say when it rains, it pours; well, 2011 was a full-blown monsoon.). By the time the hospital visits and serious health issues started, I had learned that as goofy and fun loving and young as she is, Bri is, in fact, a very responsible person. She is also one of those people who instinctively knows how to act; she can lighten a mood without being inappropriate, and she is serious when the situation calls for it. My brother is slightly lacking in the dependability department and does a poor job of returning phone calls and texts (to be fair, much of his time is taken up by work), so Bri had become my go-to person when making family plans or even when I needed to communicate something important to my brother.

 Therefore when the hospital visits started, I called Bri. Every time one of my Grandparents wound up in the hospital, I called her. Every time she asked me if I needed her to come. Every time I told her no. Every time, she showed up at the hospital 20 minutes later. Every single time. I can’t emphasize that enough: EVERY SINGLE TIME. Did I need her there? No, I could handle the medical stuff on my own. Did I WANT her there? Hell yes, but she lived 30 minutes away, worked part-time, and was in an accelerated nursing program, so she had very little free time. There was no way I was going to ask her to give up time she should have been studying or the precious little time she had to relax, no matter how much I wanted her there for the moral support. But she did it anyway. Every time.

She checked on me often, to see if my grass needed mowed or if my dogs needed to be let out and fed. She was the only one who recognized how stressed and overwhelmed I was, the only one to ask me if I was doing okay. She visited whichever grandparent was in the hospital almost daily. And she was the one who was there with me in the hospital for six hours when my grandfather was admitted, after being yet again told by me not to come because the doctors said it was nothing serious, only leaving at 11pm when I did, 3+1/2 hours before his unexpected death. By the time he died, my Grandfather had gone from believing Bri had married my brother to escape a bad home life and to have someone put her through school, to introducing her to everyone as his granddaughter, which was huge.

 Bri never said “Call me anytime if you need anything”. She never once told me “I’ll be there for you”. She never uttered the words “I care”. Yet today, I know I can call her for anything, anytime. I know without a doubt she’ll be there for me. And I know she cares. I know all that not because of words, but because of actions. Because she was there for me every time I needed someone, and even sometimes when I didn’t realize I needed someone. I’ve always been a big believer of “actions speak louder than words”, but even more so now. I’m also now a big believer in “don’t say it if you don’t mean it”. I had people who did say all that to me, and guess what? They weren’t there. Not really. Mostly only when it was convenient for them, not when I really needed them.

Caring isn’t in the words; caring is in the actions, big and little. Caring is making the sacrifice and being there when it’s least convenient for you. Caring is the friend who texts me a picture of my favorite flower for no reason other than it made her think of me. Caring is my Grandparents’ neighbors, who work long hours yet selflessly gave their time to the old folks next door, whether just to keep them company for the heck of it or spending their entire day off fixing a leaky pipe in someone else’s house. Caring is Bri, who did so much for me and my Grandparents at times that were incredibly inconvenient for her. Everybody wants that kind of friend, the friend who is so giving, but no one wants to BE that kind of friend and give that much. That type of person is few and far between, so if you ever find someone like that, hold on to them. And don’t tell them you care. Show them.

PS. I’m proud to say that Bri did very well in school, is excelling in her new career as an RN, and she and my brother are still happily married. J