Caring for My Grandfather Helped Teach Me How to Raise My Sons

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by Joe MacDonald |

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When I was young, I learned how to be a caregiver for my grandfather. My mother, sister, and I lived with my grandparents for longer than I can remember. I had an incredibly unique relationship with my mother’s parents, particularly my grandfather.

When I was about 13, he had a stroke and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. As a young person, I did not understand the medical issues he faced or how they played out in my family’s life.

When I turned 16, I received my driver’s license and thus assumed responsibility for transporting my grandfather to the hospital when health episodes required quick medical responses. My mother switched to evening shifts to help during the day while I attended school, and I took over at night.

In high school, I often reported to my first-period class after taking my grandfather to the hospital at 3 a.m. and staying with him. My best friends knew what had happened, but I never used my grandfather’s medical condition as an excuse not to complete my school duties.

The man I named as my hero, my grandpa, died when I was 18, after struggling with congestive heart failure for the last five years of his life. Through that time, I saw my family bond to provide him with the best care possible. We all communicated with one another, and together we developed a road map for dealing with chronic care. We cried together, supported one another, and did all we could to ensure that the patriarch of our family had the best life imaginable.

These lessons, I later learned, gave me insight into how to care for my sons as they struggled with complications from hemophilia. Without thinking, I could draw up a plan of action that allowed my wife and I to provide for our stinky sons’ needs. Road maps proved second nature to me, as I often charted who would spend nights at home and nights at the hospital.

My grandfather’s medical issues taught me patience, as each person handles stress in unique ways. I listened for what my family needed and attempted to provide them with moments of respite from the grueling repetition of frequent hospitalizations and issues resulting from chronic medical problems.

While I hated that my grandfather struggled with health issues during the last years of his life, I express gratitude that the struggles we faced did not go unnoticed. The lessons I learned from providing him with regular care have served as a guiding force in how I care for my stinky sons.

The most important parts of caregiving are not the difficulties that we face, but the moments we share with our loved ones. No matter the situation, no one can take away the love that we share. We can draw strength from and find our purpose in special moments spent with those we hold dear. Equipped with these things, we can provide the best life possible for our loved ones.

I am forever grateful for the time I had with my grandfather because those memories served as the bedrock for treating and loving my boys. Through his struggles, I learned the lessons I needed to be the best dad that I could be.

I hope to continue the legacy of passing down to my children the importance of caring for one another. The most extraordinary thing one person can do for another is to walk with them on their journey. We help each other when we have trouble walking, and sometimes we carry each other, but we never stop following the path that leads us on our journey.


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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