Vox Populi

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Wally Swist: The Caregiver

Unloosen expectations.
Get ready to let go,
especially at dinner time.
Be aware of sundowner
syndrome, the inevitability
of cantankerousness,
contrariness, irritability.
Expect things 

to never be the same,
even if you plan
for them to be, since
it is important
to keep to a schedule
for each meal, when
you view the film
every night. Remember

it’s o.k. if things don’t 
go right.  Recognize
all the good, especially
at bad times.  You,
as a caregiver, feel
deeply, your partner
has big feelings.  Know
who we are, that

the depth of bad
feeling is in proportion
to how good we are,
that there is a flip side
in feeling the pain,
in knowing, because
it feels worse than it is.
Always allow yourself

some time. Remind
yourself there is 
no problem-solving 
at night, or at any time
while its dark out—
and wait,
the waiting is hard.
Take a step back: 

recenter. It’s hard to
achieve: being in
the moment.  In times
of distress be gracious:
       See each other.
       Take a breath.
       Open your heart.
       Practice kindness.

Copyright 2023 Wally Swist

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2011 Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition, and A Bird Who Seems to Know Me: Poems Regarding Birds and Nature, winner of the 2018 Ex Ophidia Poetry Prize. He lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Source: Aging Care

6 comments on “Wally Swist: The Caregiver

  1. Susan Tyler
    April 19, 2023

    4/19Hi Wally–Thanks so much for sharing this poemSo very powerful & spot on. You have not only helped (& continue to help) Tevis, but also have given whoever reads this, a way to proceed caring  for others.Not an easy road, but it easier to go down it with your guidance.  We all need a map.Susan  


  2. Leo
    April 19, 2023

    Thanks for this poem. Mr. Swist is obliviously experienced and caring. As he expresses, being a caregiver is complicated. It can be rewarding or devastating, or both, almost simultaneously. A planned day can go astray with one misspoken word or an unplanned occurrence can be joyous, well, maybe not joyous; how about rewarding. I have only addressed my caregiving once in a poem. I guess, I have unconsciously avoided the subject.


    • Vox Populi
      April 19, 2023

      Caregivers are the unrecognized heroes of our society. I will always be grateful to my brother who cared for our parents the last five years of their lives.



  3. Barbara Huntington
    April 19, 2023

    Oh. I’ve been there. Late mother, late husband. Yes. Recenter. Remember


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This entry was posted on April 19, 2023 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry, Social Justice, spirituality and tagged , , , .

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