Association: Family Member
Region: Rhode Island
Written by Daniel Kenner
"She had to stop being a teacher and start becoming a student again."
My dad had dementia and my mom had stage four colon cancer. I think one of my favorite things about what I’ve learned from my parents illness is that, it’s kind of like the last line from the Beatles “White Album”, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.” I honestly think that my parents have both put so much into their lives. Both of my parents were teachers, and I think they both did so much for the community that when we really needed it, people never said “no”. People were always there to help us. It was really remarkable. One family is making dinners and dropping them off, and another family is watering our lawn. It really was such a community thing that even at the end when hospice was involved, it was hands-on. I really think that gave a lot of strength to my mom knowing that other people were helping fight for her and helping take care of her husband.
One of my moms huge dilemmas was, if she’s not going to be a teacher – who was she? She saw a lot of her identity in what she did and what she was able to accomplish in the classroom. I knew she had a lot of fear about not being in the classroom. It was interesting watching my mom have that separation of self. She had to stop being a teacher and start becoming a student again. A student of chemotherapy and diets and how to become a caregiver for my dad. She was a very active student at that time. She took a lot of stories from the classroom and brought them into our present struggles.
Daniel wrote a book following the passing of his parents called Room For Grace. Find more information at roomforgrace.org.