Labor Day? Are you kidding? Labor day — and night — and weekends and holidays — and when everyone else is off having fun. Caregivers know what I’m talking about. They don’t stop working often. It’s a job with claws.
Even the good days can seem so long. This summer, in addition to all the regular care responsibilities, we’ve been cleaning out my mom’s old home. The many hours of sorting and boxing add up to something like a part-time job. I try to balance this sad and tedious labor against quality time in the garden with Mom. Even as she fades, she is still so sweet. I don’t want to miss moments that may buoy me up in the future.
So on the occasion of this Labor Day weekend, I’d like to invite weary caregivers to pause for a moment with me and savor the closing days of summer. The poem below was written by William Stafford and it appears in the The Body Electric, America’s Best Poetry from the American Poetry Review.
It comes up out of the ocean
warm days. It reaches
for inland meadows and sighs
across grass in its cape of rain.
People come to their doors.
They look where the trees turn
gray, where hills have stepped back
of each other. Whatever it was,
It passed carefully, touching
farms, leaning over ponds,
bending down the wheat.
People stand long at their doors.
“You were good this time, August
Old Friend. So long. So long.”
Treasure the moments you have; take the brief relief a holiday may offer. Ask for help if you need it and thank the ones who provide some. Today, tomorrow, whenever: if someone else will make the potato salad, let them.