by Karen Keller Capuciati
So we’re writers now. How about that?
When we had this idea for In Care of Dad, we were focusing mostly on how we could help other people, not on the fact that we would be writing … all the time. We began to write and write and write, and as In Care of Dad developed, the scope of the site grew, and we had to write even more.
The funny part is, my sister Kim and I have always detested writing. Historically, we avoided it like the plague, procrastinating until the very last minute, squirming through every part of the process.
So we have to laugh now when we say, Hey, we’re writers.
But what makes writing so difficult for us? We don’t have any particular trouble communicating our thoughts to others verbally, so what’s the big deal about putting it in black and white?
In my pottery class, I’ve noticed there are many beginners who give up because they compare their un-centered “dog bowls” to the big, elegant pasta bowls created with ease by other potters in the class, people with years of experience. Some of the rookies don’t seem to realize these other potters were making dog bowls when they started too, but have continued on to perfect their craft.
For those of us caring for aging parents, it is extremely difficult on many levels. To start with, how do we know what to do? We haven’t trained for this position. We have no inherent knowledge from birth that tells us how to handle things. How do we deal with the whole emotional aspect of caring for a loved one struggling with a disease or just getting too old to care for themselves?
I came to an understanding as I watched our copy editor go over our writing. John is a close friend who edits everything we post on In Care of Dad. He has truly honed his craft, and I began to enjoy sharing the process with him, looking at every word, scrutinizing every thought. He asks the right questions; points out anything that might be confusing – he trims the unnecessary and adds when more description is called for. It seems like more of an enjoyable puzzle for him.
So I turned a corner and came to accept the basic premise that first attempts aren’t supposed to be perfect. Good writing is a process – just like everything else in life that we weren’t born to master. This allows me to just get my points down freely and not worry about making each sentence perfect from the start. I know that I will be reworking the pieces to make the puzzle work. I understand that it may even be difficult, but going for it will be rewarding when the result is achieved in the end.
Can this same lesson bridge other difficulties in our lives? The loss of our father was overwhelming – the most difficult experience in our lives to date. Helping our mom recover from her stroke is a continuing challenge for all of us. Once we accept the difficulty factor, does that change the way we handle the process? Once we come to terms with the fact that things don’t go perfectly from the start, will we flow with the bumps in the road?
Perhaps the message for those of us who are helping our parents is to acknowledge that it is hard, and to accept that it is a life process. Instead of avoiding the unpleasant tasks at hand, take them on with renewed enthusiasm. This is our opportunity to help someone we love through a very difficult and important time in his or her life. Pay attention, follow your instincts, and even when things get really hard, seek out the simple joys.