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The Caregiver’s Cairn: Hurricane Harvey—The Stories

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Jane Barton

Greetings one and all…

For the past four days, I have been glued to the tube and the internet—witnessing the unfolding catastrophe caused by Hurricane Harvey along the Texas Gulf Coast. Having lived in Houston in the early 90’s when I worked in the oil business, I have a fondness for the city and the surrounding area. I also have some very dear friends who live in and around Houston. Text messages and FaceBook are proving to be effective methods of communication. My friends are not only posting messages but also pictures and videos which have left me speechless. The situation is truly beyond belief in some areas. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this devastating storm.

I have also spent quite a bit of time every morning and evening watching the various 24/7 news channels to stay current on the status of Harvey. The images of the rising waters and storm damage projected on the screen are surreal. However, the faces and the posture of those enduring this horrific event are all too real and raw—silent expressions of fear, disbelief, horror, anxiety, anger, shock, gratitude, relief, love, and joy. It’s the people and their stories that grab my heart and touch my soul.

Today I took some time to reflect on the poignant and profound stories emanating from the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast. In the midst of such massive destruction and subsequent loss, stories of equally impressive compassionate, selfless care have emerged:

  • First responders risking their lives to save and to serve community members
  • Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers
  • A son wading through rising waters twice daily to deliver meals to his elderly parents until evacuation was possible
  • A government official visiting a shelter offered meaningful and beneficial support to a 92-year-old woman via a heartfelt hug
  • Collaborative, committed efforts of courageous community members to care for each other

Granted, there are disappointing—if not infuriating—stories as well. The stories of scams, looting, and violence. However, based on the news coverage, the negative stories are the exception rather than the rule. Compassionate, caring, courageous responses are the predominant stories of the day. The people of Texas and Louisiana are choosing to write hope-FULL, faith-FILLED, grate-FULL stories that serve to inspire our entire nation, if not the world. The life-giving responses of those most affect by Hurricane Harvey serve as much needed reminders of the importance of community—a caring community. By coming together, the people throughout the Gulf Coast region are confronting the challenges of rebuilding their homes, businesses, and lives. Together, they are bouncing back from this epic tragedy—collectively writing a timeless story of resilience, courage, and determination. That is a story worth reading— a story for the ages.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, enjoy the moment...Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at coaarp@aarp.org and we will be in touch soon!

 

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.

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