The time has come to end our work on Inside Aging Parent Care. Our aging parents are gone these several years. We have continued, but our focus has shifted to other topics. For me it has been more difficult each successive week to come up with a fresh, original topic that I want to write about. So, we will be closing up shop.
I do want to share the two most valuable things I have gained from being a caregiver and writing about caregiving. This blog has given me the structure and inspiration to write something every week for three years. I have always wanted to write, but I have actually done so, right here. I now plan to write about other things that interest me, and even indulge in writing some fiction.
The most valuable thing from caregiving and writing about it is that I have grown as a person, and feel much better about myself from having done these things.
Carol gave her Jungian perspective in Tuesday’s post. She writes about the alchemical transition in kitchen remodeling and caregiving. The crux of the alchemical process is transformation. Transformation of base metal into gold, and transformation of one human psychological state to a higher one.
For me, the transformation was from the Puer Aternus, or eternal boy to something of a mature man. I was a typical Puer in my first marriage, much more committed to play and party than accepting responsibility as an adult with obligations. I also decided I did not want children, one reason being that I did not want the responsibility. No wonder that marriage failed.
After several years of introspection and reflection, I met and married Carol. I had decided that if I wanted a relationship, I had to commit to it and do whatever it takes to make it work. In other words, I decided to grow up. I was in my 40’s. I gave up being a Puer.
Marie-Louise von Franz, the late Jungian analyst and writer, wrote the definitive book on the Puer: The Problem of the Puer Aeternus. I read the book after marrying Carol and began studying Jungian psychology. Von Franz had me nailed. The experience of a bad marriage and a fairly nasty divorce forced me to finally give up a self-centered way of living.
Carol and I have a good marriage that requires constant work, something the Puer is not willing to commit to. The Puer is also incapable of caregiving for the same reason. Caregiving is an act of commitment to help another person out of love and compassion. It takes a level of commitment exceeded only by motherhood. A man who only wants to play at life just can’t do it.
In my case as caregiver, Frank and Audrey were in-laws that were late-comers in my life. I stepped into caregiving because it was the right thing to do. I don’t think many people would have blamed me if I had stood back from engaging with them. I did it because of their need and my commitment to a genuine relationship to all my immediate family. My relationship became closer with them, especially Frank. We became real friends, despite our mutual tendencies to be real jerks at times. Seeing those relationships through to their deaths was a painful time, but also one of the most meaningful times of my life.
I grew as a person because I was a caregiver. Caregiving also strengthened our marriage. Carol and I together confronted all the difficult times and decisions caring for an aging and dying parent present. We became closer and more compassionate to one another as a result of caregiving.
Writing about caregiving has also made a big difference in my life. Writing about the aging and dying process as it happened, then exploring the practical and emotional aftermath has given me a richer perspective on the task of living we all share.
Now it is time to move on. I have a lot to say about many things, and the weekly deadline of this forum is in the way. We will keep the website up for a time, and there may be occasional updates, but it is time to say goodbye and God bless.