You Never Know…Grandma Rancher?
What is your funniest experience as a family caregiver? I cared for the grandmother of two boys with whom I went to school. They were a ranching family and as such were a fairly tough group. Their grandmother was a frail little woman who was bedridden with hair down to her waist. We spend a lot of days cleaning her and feeding her. She was very alert for 101! She knew who everyone was and she had an amazing memory. We often spoke of her grandsons and the mischief they would create in school. They weren’t bad boys but they were boys just the same. I found out from one of her grandsons that she came out west by herself and ran her own cattle ranch by herself for many years. I was quite impressed that this little woman did all that. The family had tens of thousands of head of cattle by this time. I asked her about it and she told me that when she was moving out west, she had between 500-700 head of cattle and she did have several ranch hands that assisted her with the ranch; but she was right there with them working the cattle. I asked her if it was dangerous and she said it wasn’t too bad if you kept your wits about you. She did say that she only had trouble one time and it wasn’t bad after that. She told me that one day, she caught a rustler on her land who had killed several head of cattle and she was able to subdue him and take him to the sheriff. I asked her how she did that (she was all of about 5 foot nothing and 95 lbs.) and she told me that she shot the rustler once in each knee, bound him in barbed wire and threw him in the back of the buckboard wagon and rode into town with him (about 75 miles one way) so that the sheriff could make sure that he made restitution to her for the cattle he killed. Once the word got out about what happened to him, there was no more trouble on the ranch!!! I asked her grandsons about the story the next day and they said if she said it, it was true! ~Joan Pound
Sonia Morrison Commentary: You just never know “the rest of the story” when you are a caregiver. You may, however, get a little glimpse by asking the right questions. Treating others with dignity and respect offers the great reward of closeness and connection. Some people are excellent storytellers. If you ever find one and want to document their story go to storycorp.com. Their stories are often shared on NPR and then filed in an archive. This is a portion of one of the caregiving interviews in my upcoming book, The Heart of Caregiving.