Lean on me, when you’re not strong, And I’ll be your friend,
I’ll help you carry on, For it won’t be long,
‘Til I’m gonna need, Somebody to lean on.
Lean on me
Lean on me; we all remember the inspiring song from the 1970’s by Bill Withers. I have to admit the song was playing in my head when I selected this week’s book pretty much based on the title. Lean On Me, written by Pat Simmons is a delightful find, filled with family, fun, faith, romance, and a heart-warming real-life struggle with Alzheimer.
This is my first time reading a book written by this award-winning author. Pat Simmons is the author of more than thirty-five Christian titles and I’m not sure why it is that I’ve never ran across her books before. But, I am glad I did.
This engaging novel follows the story of three sisters who decide to care for their aging Aunt Tweet. They plan to divide up her care-giving between them, and each take six months. But, what they find out – specifically Tabitha since this first book in a series focuses on her six month period of time – is that as their beloved Aunt’s Alzheimer begins to consume Aunt Tweet, they must battle to adjust schedules, and adapt jobs and life, while still finding time to care for themselves.
As I delved deeper into their story it stirred my heart with such a strong resemblance to my family and our struggles with my Dad who was diagnosed with Dementia over a year ago. I found myself laughing and crying at the same time as each new adventure unfolded. I rooted for Tabitha and Marcus as they strive to balance care-giving with new romance as their love story unfolded. How this family found and drew upon their faith in God and each other inspired me.
This would be a wonderful book for a ladies book club selection.
There are discussion questions in the back as well as a preview of the next book in the series which focuses on the sister Rachel who is next in line for Aunt Tweet’s care.
In the Author’s Note section at the back of the book, this comment really touched me.
“Being a caregiver is probably one of the most misunderstood positions. There is joy, sorrow, depression, frustration, pity parties, and more.”
I must be honest that I have felt every one of these emotions during our own journey with my Dad. Even though Mom and Dad are currently in Assisted Living, we recently had to make the tough decision to move them into separate rooms. It became “too much” for my Mom to be the anything and everything that Dad needed in addition to her own mental, emotional and physical needs.
If you or a loved one have been put in a situation of care-giving here are a few tips both from the book and from personal experience.
- Recognize that you are not alone. There is nothing you are experiencing that someone else hasn’t already gone through. Find a support team that will listen – and encourage you. Don’t hold it all in. A safe person to vent to is essential for your mental health.
- Ask for help! There is nothing to be ashamed of and getting extra help for either mental or physical needs will make a huge difference. Sometimes that might mean hiring in help so you can take a break to have your hair or nails done. These little things will refresh you and make you feel better about YOU.
- Take time for yourself. Even if you can only get away for coffee with a family member or friend – DO IT! Anything that allows you to put the focus on yourself is healthy for all.
- Read and research the disease so you know what you are dealing with and what happens next as the journey continues forward.
- Have a plan of action for when it’s time to make a change in the care-giving situation. Share that plan with family / friends so they can support you and come along side for tough transitions.
Our life on this earth is fickle – unknown – always changing. This is magnified when dealing with the care of any loved one going through life-altering diseases.
Rosalyn Carter once said,
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Lean on Me…by Pat Simmons
I highly recommend this book.