Guest Post on Caregiving

Dear Readers,

Many of you know my dear friends, Chris and Amy Cameron.  They lived in Huntsville for many years but now reside in Scottsboro, AL.  Amy has Multiple Sclerosis and Chris is her willing caregiver.   In this touching blog post, he shares his story, guaranteed to make your holiday warmer and your heart beat more tenderly.  It is his story in his words.  Many thanks, Chris, for allowing us to view caregiving through your lens.

My role as a Caregiver by Chris Cameron

Just as there are all types of people in this world, there are all types of caregivers.  But in the simplest form there are two:  one who has no choice and one who makes the choice.

The role of caregiver is not by choice for most.  Life happened to them as they were making other plans.  They had to scramble, make difficult decisions, make alternative plans, make adjustments, make excuses, make do, and try to make sense of it all and quickly.  They became a caregiver by accident, by diagnosis, or by happenstance.  This is how most caregivers come into the role; it was thrust upon them.  Who could possibly want to be in this position?  Not one person if asked.

And then there are the few – like me – who chose the role, and it came about over time.  The reasons usually go unknown and are seldom asked.  I appreciate this opportunity to put down in words what this 25-year experience has been for me.  It was simply a prayer answered.   I was led to my dear Amy over a lifetime of choices.  Place the emphasis here on “led.”  God does lead and sometimes it just takes time.

As a young man I had moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music business at Belmont College, now a university.  After about a decade of chasing that dream, I had decided that the music scene and all that goes with it were not for me and that I was going to better myself and my direction in life.  My Christian upbringing was tugging at my heart to change.  It was purposeful and a deliberate turning point in my life.  I moved from the Vanderbilt University, West End area to a condo in Hermitage, Tennessee on Percy Priest Lake with my dog and settled in.  My life was quickly becoming better and in balance. Things were going fine.  My family was well, my friends many, my work engaging, my hobbies fun. My health was good, my finances were on track and such was life, all well.  Everything was going well, but one; I had no love. I had no girlfriend, and it had been about 5 years since I was last involved romantically.  It was 1990; I prayed for love and while praying I drew a cross on paper with the words, “Lord help me.” I have that paper still today. I can say without doubt, prayer works!

Within two weeks, I met Amy and we were holding hands five minutes into our first date.  I have not let go of her hand in the 25 years since. So it was God’s decision to put us together and I could not have been happier with it. I did not know of her Multiple Sclerosis until well into our relationship. From the first date, we were involved with each other daily. We lived in separate cities but the relationship quickly evolved.  At about 3 months, I found out what she faced.  She had just learned of it herself not long before.  One night while she was talking on the phone to a friend, she was crying.  As I asked her what the trouble was, she thought I had overheard her conversation. “Chris,” she said sadly, ”I have Multiple Sclerosis!”  I had not overheard that conversation, but I was faced with a choice. I had a first cousin who had MS years ago, and his life was cut short because of it.  That was the extent of what I knew of MS.    What is a man to do when faced with that news from one that he loves so dearly?  Run?   I think not.  Wait and decide later?  No.  It took me but one moment to decide.  I chose to embrace the love I had found. I could not turn on my dear Amy or on God’s gift to me, the answer to my prayer.

It made sense to me then and still does today, and I have evolved into caregiving as just part of my duty as a husband.  I don’t think of myself as a victim.  I am blessed and thankful.

Is life difficult at times? Sure. Like the caregivers who had it thrust upon them, I too must scramble at times, make alternative plans, make excuses, make do and try to make sense of it all.  But my challenges are no greater than anyone else’s.

With prayer, my Lord helped me find love.  My sweet Amy was there in two weeks.  A decade later I assured her endearing father Carl on his deathbed that we were true to our vows, and I would always take care of his daughter.   I will.

It’s my love story so I guess it’s not caregiving; to me it’s part of life’s journey.  Different from most folks, I’d far rather have love to care for than the alternative.