November of every year is National Family Caregiver Month. President Obama’s Proclamation: outlines the idea and energy behind such an important recognition of the role those in the family who find themselves caring for someone who needs help. The theme for 2015 is “Respite: Care for the Caregiver” according to the Care Giver Action Network.
As the President says in his proclamation: “For centuries, we have been driven by the belief that we all have certain obligations to one another.”
I want take special note this year of a friend and supporter of The Actual Dance, Gregory Johnson. Greg has been an incredible voice for Family Caregiving in America – indeed the world. I have been honored that Greg has found The Actual Dance a moving tribute to family caregiving and has himself and through EmblemHealth in New York been an avid supporter of “bringing The Actual Dance to all those who need to see it.”
Greg just recently retired from his full time position at EmblemHealth. The company had of course the good sense to not let him get far and has brought him back on board to the program as a consultant! In thinking about how to offer a tribute to Greg and to acknowledge this month of Family Caregiver recognition it occurred to me there is an idea or concept that bridge Greg and The Actual Dance – and that is the idea of “The Heart of the Family Caregiver.”
One could argue that Greg himself embodies that “heart.” To know Greg Johnson is to have an experience of love and generosity and yes--- Heart. It is through his own journey of family care and his spiritual journey through a “side” profession as an adjunct minister at Marble Collegiate Church that Greg has come to know that that care giving is not just about physical care. Oh yes, watch this wonderful video and hear from Greg himself. Greg was recently awarded a Life Time Acheivement Award by the Health Care Chaplaincy Network.
The Actual Dance --- the metaphorical other worldly engagement with someone you love through their end of life—is about the heart of the family caregiver. There is a beauty in that process and an amazing grace of dignity and privilege when we are with those in our family as they need us at the most important time in life.
Family Caregiver Month is a great time to, and now I quote Greg Johnson, say “Thank you” to all those Family Caregivers in the world. The role and time and circumstances of that work comes upon us outside of our control and on its own time schedule. What makes it all possible in the end and what gives it such beauty is simply the heart, the love that calls us to do what often we cannot imagine we can do and yet we do it.
At this time of Thanksgiving -- let’s us be thankful for the Family Caregivers in our midst and perhaps most especially for the source of the strength and heart and love that enables us to perform that sacred obligation when we are called upon to do so.