Remembering a Great Man- Our Uncle

As many of you already know, last week on April 16, 2019 in Arizona our dearest Uncle Bill passed in his sleep. During his short time there, he was in the care of some wonderful family members talking about all the good times spent with each other throughout his and their lives.

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As one of Uncle Bill’s God Children, I never knew a time where he wasn’t part of my life even though he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some 3-4 years ago. He did the best he could throughout this time and my life to call on birthdays, holidays, and other special events. He was there sharing in these good times and even in the bad times including the final days of my own dads life.

In fact, I think I was about 10 when I realized that Uncle Bill was more than my God Father. That weekend that I spent with him changing the landscape of his yard was the first time, I realized if there was something you could be proud at a young age was hard work pays off in the end with a finished product. From that weekend on, we continued to share memories and stories. Memories of family vacations, reunions, dinners, and other events of enjoying each other’s company. These events combined with others would also continue to define who I would become as a person when he and my Aunt Kay moved to Florida to enjoy their retirement, as I attended school at the University of South Florida. These memories were not a coincidence and it’s not just me being selective in remembering, it’s because Uncle Bill was a good man and a man that AGAIN helped shape me into who I am today!

Even in his final years, months, and days Uncle Bill made every attempt to do right by his family and friends. Sometimes that meant he would call, visit, or help in any way he could with advice, new perspectives, or financially. He was an inspiration to many with his contagious smile and enthusiasm for life. He made differences in the lives of almost everyone he came into contact with. He was an example of what a true man can be, what a family member can be, or what a friend can be. Now that he is gone we must all learn to grieve for a man that gave everything to all those who knew him. Grieve that he is now reunited with his mom, dad, wife, brothers, sisters, and friends that have went before him.

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Although there may be a hole left behind by Uncle Bill’s passing, he will never be forgotten because he filled mine and other lives with memories of happiness and joy. Grieving must remind us of how memories of how hard work pays off. Memories of how time never stands still. Memories of personal triumphs and struggles. Memories of how Uncle Bill touched each one of us and how he helped shape our lives in the past and in the future.

I ask for all of those who knew Uncle Bill and even those who did not that you remember him in your prayers. Let heaven accept this great man and reunite him with others who went before him. My heart is broken but on this Easter Sunday, I pray for Uncle Bill and all those others that I am lucky enough to have or had him as a friend or family member. Please tell those you love how much you love them because we never know when the last time will be that we have to say it. Continue to be strong and enjoy your time spent with each other, so when it is our time to go we know we have not left any stone unturned in our own voyage to the heavens. Give thanks for memories of your past and continue to make memories for the future. It is all these memories (good/bad) others will remember in the end when you are gone. Memories my friends and family are what we have to give, so never stop giving, never stop creating, and never stop telling others how much they mean to you. God bless all and RIP our dearest Uncle Bill!

From left to right “Uncle” William Albert Dandaneau, “Dad, Grandpa, Uncle” David Alexander Dandaneau & “Son, Nephew, Uncle” David William Dandaneau

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Happier: Is there Happiness as a Care-Giver?

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Is anyone really happy? What is happiness anyway? I’ve touched on this before in previous posts but let’s dive deeper into this thing they call happiness but from a care givers point of view! So many of us wonder through life looking for some reason to be happy but is happiness really just waking up and being happy, being thankful for those we have in life, that first cup of coffee, piece of toast, or that fruit?

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Let me be the first to tell you that true happiness is those things and so much more. Happiness is something that we have control over. Happiness is in fact, what we decide to be happy over. Recently, I became a care-giver of my father in his final weeks fighting stage 4 lung cancer. This made me very happy, as it was rewarding to be with dad during these troubling times, yet it was also very stressful seeing the decline in such a good man making me unhappy.

Care-giving while remaining optimistic and happy was a new concept to us in our newly formed family life but is something millions of people around the world do everyday and very challenging to say the least. Being cared for or cared by is a team effort no matter what side of the fence you are on and if everyone can remain happy during these times the easier it can be. However, how can anyone remain happy having to manage doctor visits, medications, hospice personal, and the mental/physical health of a loved one? On the flip side and as I have yet to find out… what toll did all this short-term happiness that I had during this time will/is playing on my overall real state of happiness both mentally and physically. I guess only time will tell huh?

Going at anything in life alone can be very challenging, scary, and filled with unknowns but trying to remain happy during these times is very important. Here are some things I found helped and are helping right up to this post.

Rule #1

Don’t do it alone. One thing I noticed over the last few years in fighting this cancer is that there is a lot of help out there for you whether it comes from the doctors, hospice crew, co-workers, or other family and friends. If you don’t ask or take any help think about how this will affect your overall happiness. Also think about how this will affect your health, finances, and spirit? Chances are you will see them all decline eventually and you will end up broke, depressed, and unhappy that you didn’t do enough. Yes? No?

Rule #2

Make it worth every minute. in my dads final weeks/month we were very blessed to have worked with amazing doctors (although dad was convinced they were only after his money), family, and an amazing hospice staff throughout the greater Tampa area. Over this time, I felt a great sense of happiness and continually told myself (even if I was NOT getting paid) that this time spent with him was worth every minute and every dollar of energy we all put into his full-time care. Even though my health and finances continued to decline throughout this time, I tried my best to remain happy and make every minute count. I think dad appreciated it although I still think sometimes he could see the stress mounting.

Rule #3

Tell those your with how much you love them. All to often in life, I think a lot of us get caught up in the moment regardless of what it is. Care-giving is no different. Care-giving requires all your time, energy, and effort, so how can you remain happy and tell all those others in your life that you love them? I by no means have excelled or am excelling in this category but did/do my best each day to tell others how much I love/loved them. Heck, I was even telling the hospice crew I loved them at the end. Now that both my parents have passed I will continue to work on this and hopefully when it’s my time those I touched throughout my life will tell me those exact words… I love you in the end!

 

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I know that I could create an endless list of how to remain happy as a care-giver but I’ll save those for another day. The fact(s) is that most of us choose to be unhappy and more people should choose to be happy, especially if you are or will become a care-giver. Life as a care-giver can be filled with spreadsheets, charts, sleepless nights, etc. but if you somehow can remain happy, I think that is what will carry you to a long end life, while not pissing off all those that you are so close to. And as Mother Teresa said “spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come without leaving happier.” Thoughts?

In memory of my AWESOME LOVING DAD!!!

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