blankblankSeasons Change - An introduction


The road we travel, regardless of our plans and dreams, is highly unpredictable and full
of surprises. There have been no promises that the seasons of our life would be free of cloudy days, droughts, or storms. The unpredictable and often uncomfortable events of our life reflect one of the most predictable characteristics of life. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that everyday hundreds of farm and ranch* families, like yours, face the beginning of a new day knowing that a family member has experienced an injury or illness that is unlikely to go away. Disease, injury, or maybe the loss of hope has resulted in a permanent disability that will forever change your life. The difference is that today it’s your family; it’s your husband, wife, son, daughter, or friend who has been disabled. No matter how much you would like things to be different, or to return to their former ways, it might not be possible. With little or no opportunity for input from you, you have become a caregiver.

“A spouse, parent, child, or friend who gives a helping hand willingly with friendship and love, they are people who care...”
~ Marjory Fritz, Venice, California

Time is not going to stand still; life is going to go on. In some capacity you will respond to this new role as a primary caregiver for someone who has gone through a significant change but remains very important to you. This will probably mean giving up some of yourself and your time to assume new responsibilities. It may mean putting your personal dreams on the back burner, while undertaking additional tasks such as unfamiliar farm chores, machinery repairs, marketing crops, paying bills, preparing meals, and transporting children.

You may be asking yourself, “Will I be able to muster the determination and courage to weather this storm and the ones to come? Will I have the patience to make the very best of the existing circumstances that I cannot control? Will I have the humility to seek a helping hand when it becomes necessary? and, Will I have the faith to believe that maybe the best is yet to come?”

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
~ Donna Direst, Wisconsin

You are not alone. More than 49 million Americans have some type of disability. Many require some type of assistance or care from a family member, friend, or professional. As a caregiver you would probably identify with many of the basic aspects of caregiving. These include:
• Giving more assistance in time, energy, and costs, than family members usually provide
• Caring for an individual who has some physical or mental impairment that will last a long time
• Helping with many basic daily activities, such as going to work, getting out of the house, completing personal hygiene and care, attending church or social activities
•Having your family member depend upon your care for their well-being

As a family that has been involved in agriculture, your work has probably been more than just an occupation; it has been a way of life. The farm or ranch, the land, and even the family home are all an important part of your life, your heritage, and even your identity. As you consider whether life will ever be “normal” again, this publication will provide ideas, resources, and suggestions that will assist you, the caregiver. Hope is offered by others who have weathered the same storms and overcome barriers with the support of family, friends, neighbors, community agencies, and their faith. Each year, thousands of farm and ranch families encounter the impact of disability on a family member and continue to work and live productive lives. This resource contains real life stories and practical suggestions to help you face and actually begin to enjoy your days as a caregiver.

As your family begins this journey toward a new season of life, we urge you to consider the advice of Sir Winston Churchill to the citizens of Great Britain during one of their darkest periods. In one of his most famous, and shortest speeches he encourages them to: “Never Give Up, Never, Never, Never Give Up.”

“Suppose you arrive at your door with your arms full of packages. It is an inconvenience that you do not have a third hand to open the door, but you wouldn’t consider yourself handicapped or feel sorry for yourself because you lack three hands. You must learn to consider your blindness (or disability) in the same way, an inconvenience at times but no cause for self-pity.”
~ Ralph Teetor, Hagerstown Indiana



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