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Mary and Aunt Bevie - When the Roles Reversed

Mary had been attending one of my support groups for about 6 months.  She was carrying for her Aunt Bevie. Aunt Bevies husband Uncle Jim died about 3 years ago after a long battle with COPD and lung cancer. Aunt Bevie had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a year later.  

One day Mary asked to meet with me alone.  She said she wanted to tell me the real story of Aunt Bevie and she has allowed me to share it with you... 

"My mother gave birth to me at the age of 17.  She was a drug user, single and could not hold a job.  Her parents kicked her out of the house when she told them she was pregnant.  A friends family took her in and let her sleep on their couch.  She would cook and clean for them.  The dad of the family did not know she was pregnant and when he found out he asked her to leave as he was not comfortable with a young girl 7 months pregnant living in his home.  He told her she was a terrible example to his young daughters.  

She had no where to go and slept in some parks for a few weeks. One morning she stopped into a church to warm up and feel asleep in the pew.  She hadn't eaten in a couple of days. About 3 o'clock that afternoon she was woken up by Bevie. She told her that the church was closing and she had to leave.  My mom broke down sobbing and told Bevie her story.   My mom said Bevie put her arm around her and asked her home for dinner.  After dinner Bevie gave her a nice warm nightgown, told her to go take a bath and invited her to stay the night.  The next morning Bevie told my mom she and Jim would like to offer their home to my mom until she gave birth and got on her feet.  Bevie was the grounds keeper at the church and my mom would help her tend to the gardens.  Mom and I ended up living with Aunt Bevie and Uncle Jim till I was around 4 years old.   

Aunt Bevie was always the most fun to be with.  Mom and her would dance around the kitchen entertaining me in my high chair.  Uncle Jim must have watched 10,000 hours of Disney movies with me. We did crafts and planted flowers and vegetables.  She taught me how to cook and sew.  I realize now that she was sort of a hippie and I loved her with every fiber of me. 

Shortly after my fourth birthday mom met Mike.  They married 6 months later and we moved to Florida where Mike was offered a great job.  We were very happy until I was 16 and they were killed in an automobile accident.

I was heartbroken and went to stay with a cousin.  I hated being at my cousins. Their house was full of drama.  Aunt Bevie called me every single day.  I was depressed, acting out, failing in school and just plain miserable . I was about to quit school.  Three months later Aunt Bevie and Uncle Jim sold their house in a Michigan and moved to Florida and invited me to live with them.  

They saved my life, just as they had with my mom many years ago. Their love surrounded me and helped me heal. With Aunt Bevie I always felt safe and loved.  She always encouraged me and guided me through the challenges in my life.  I graduated from high school and went on to college.  After college I married my high school sweetheart.  A year after our wedding my husband was transferred by his company to a job in Australia.  I spoke with Aunt Bevie often but only was able to visit every couple of years.  

The year after Uncle Jim died I went to visit Aunt Bevie.  She looked exhausted, she had lost a lot of weight.  She kept repeating the same questions and her normally spotless house was a mess.  One day she drove to the bank and did not return for hours.  I was worried sick and went out looking for her.  When I got back home she was there with the police. They said she almost had an accident and when they stopped her she didn't where she was and could not remember her address. 

It was then I realized how much Aunt Bevie needed my comfort, understanding and help.  It was time for me to NOW take care of her.

 My husband and I had talked about moving back to Florida. I went home, packed my bags and returned 3 weeks later.  My husband, daughter and son-in-law sold our house and joined me and Aunt Bevie within six months. 

We all take care of Aunt Bevie.  It is a bittersweet journey.  But with love, education, support and understanding, we are living life happily ever after." 

My heart was overflowing with joy and gratitude for Mary sharing her story.  She shared it with our support group the following week and continues to share her frustrations, joys, laughs and tears on her caregiving journey.  

P.S.  Mary's daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last week.  They named her Bevie.


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