First of all, I need to thank the many hundreds of blog readers who wrote Carol Gulley yesterday and last night about her struggle to come to terms with her new role as a caregiver. I wrote about a poem she published on her blog in which she shared her pain and confusion about her life being turned upside down by Ed's brain tumors.
I doubt Ed missed a day's hard work in his long life, and Carol was beside him every step of the way.
Now, Ed can no longer work, and she has a different role. Everything about her life has changed, and there is no school for caregivers. The poem was angry and wounded. She was clearly looking for help, I thought, and I asked if the caregivers out there – I know there are many – might contact her and offer her support and good wishes.
They sure did.
She wrote on her blog today that by this morning, she had already received over 300 e-mails about her frustration and concern. Caregivers are the unsung and usually unpaid heroes of the health care universe, their work is grueling, urgent, exhausting and often traumatic. It is most often ignored or taken for granted, as our sick health care system retreats and contracts and overcharges.
There are some excellent human beings out there, Carol is one of them.
I am glad and grateful that you and she found one another. I live in a bubble, I suppose, I write these things and am simply not conscious that there are so many good people reading and listening. That is humbling and shocking. And wonderful.
Carol has startled me more than once, she did it again today by asking everyone who messaged her in the area – it's hard for people her to see that my blog is actually much more national than local – to stop by the farm if they were in the area, "please feel free to do so, all I ask is that you call and/or text to give a head's up. It means a great deal to us, especially the Farmer."
Carol gave her phone number, and also her e-mail for good measure: email@example.com.
She said the messages lifted her up, they touched her heart and created a "calming effect" for her. She said she couldn't possibly answer each message but asked that if she whines, "you are welcome to tell me to go to my room and put my big girl pants on if you'd like. LOL."
She added "you are all my friends that I haven't met yet…"
it was fascinating to read yesterday's post and todays. The Gulleys scare me sometimes, I think they see the entire world as a family farm, safe and cozy and eager to help. Ed stops total strangers on the street and has long talks about brain cancer and life. They see the Internet as a sea of friends they haven't met yet. Their trust and gregariousness is alien to me, sometimes seems completely at odds with the times.
Perhaps that will be the legacy of the family farm – trust.
And maybe that is the point for them. I was concerned. And I felt protective.
I messaged Carol and urged her not to invite the entire Internet to come to her house, and also to not give her phone number out to the world. There are lots of wonderful people on the Internet, but there are lots of strange and troubled people there as well.
In the coming weeks and months, I said, she and Ed might not want hordes of strangers popping by, or tele-marketers or cranks calling up to offer miracle cures for just a few hundred dollars. This is a place where I have been, and although we are all different, and I am grateful to the Internet for so much of my life, I do not see it as a large family farm.
I've had all kinds of people drive up to my houses, pop up in the woods, send me huge boxes of unwanted gifts that I can't us, and even, once or twice, stalk my ungainly and non-exotic self.
But I am not Ed and Carol, what didn't work for me might be wonderful for them. And it is up to them, and up to the world.
Ed Gulley is radically more open than I am, he means it when he says everyone in the world should come by his farm, and Carol seems to share the same idea. But I hope that doesn't always happen, there will probably be many times in the coming weeks and months when they will not want the phone to ring or people to come banging on the door just a few feet from Ed's bed.
Nobody asked me, and forgive me for offering advice, but I will venture that I think e-mail is a great way to go when it comes to communicating with the Gulleys, at least at first. They are quite sincere, and they do love visitors, but I am not sure they quite get what is out there, a vast Army of Angels and warmth, and a world that is sometimes dark and forbidding.
In the farm world, the door is always open and the lights are always on. I was kidding Ed about it yesterday, I said his life sometimes sounds like an ad for Motel 6.
I want to thank you for supporting Carol, and in so doing, supporting Ed. She no longer feels alone or misunderstood.
Your messages seem to have done a world of good, and I should say it shows us the best side of this strange new world, a lesson I have already learned, where people I do not know and will probably never meet have transformed my life and the lives of so many people in need.
Despite all of the good, the world is not a big family farm, and I can't say I would ever invite all of it to drop in or call.
That is me. It's a wonderful image, and if it's really what the Gulley's want, I hope it happens.
I hope the world will one day be just like a family farm. That would be very beautiful.