Friday, September 25, 2009

Is it worth it?

"Maybe dying is the answer," I overheard my uncle tell my aunt. "I don't want to live the rest of my life like this."

Ever since
my uncle came home from the hospital last week he was clearly despondent. He's worried he won't be able to handle the chemo. Worried that he'll always be dependent on others to complete everyday tasks.

I've spent the past two weeks with him and my aunt helping out as best I could and had a restless craving to draw something....
anything! Here is a sketch of their backyard fence.

It had so much character and just begged to be drawn!

The buckled planks. Random stones underneath in the dirt. Stray grass protruding every which way. It provided a little escape for me. My time is limited right now and I squeeze in my art when I can....which isn't often.

I've agreed to stay at my aunt and uncle's house until he gets his strength back. But for how long? A couple more weeks? A few months? Once he starts chemotherapy I'm sure he'll be weak again. Will I have to stay off and on with them indefinitely?

I'm emotionally and physically drained. Feeling worried, frustrated, trapped, and helpless. Maybe I'm being an ungrateful nephew and focusing too much on my own troubles. After all, I'm not the one battling cancer.

The two of them helped raise me when I was younger and were always there for my immediate family. And I can't give up a month or two in return? Maybe I'm just being selfish at this point.

But how much help can I be? When my uncle has his bad days and appears to give up so easily, I wonder where is the fight in him. And then I ask myself....
where is the fight in me?

Who am I to encourage anyone to keep going when I often don't feel like living myself?

"I don't even know if it's worth it," my uncle weakly said.
Sometimes I tell myself the exact same thing.....


naturgesetz said...

Don't give up. After all this is over, you will be comforted to know that you gave whatever help you did. Just having you there makes it better for them than if they were alone. You'll be glad you were there.

I like the sketch.

Dolores said...

I know it's hard to, but it would be good for both you and your uncle to focus on the positive. I love your drawing of the fence. Can't you just be there in the flesh at your aunt and uncle's and do more drawings? I am sure having you there is a blessing for your aunt. Someone to share the time with - someone just to be there. BTW, there have been studies that show that the mind is a powerful influence on the body. Thinking positive thoughts can help one heal. Why not go out and get some humourous videos to watch with your uncle?

Anonymous said...

I will try not to ramble on...but reading your thoughts remind me of the yr taking care of my mom..I had put everything on hold to be there for her...all I can say is YES it is worth it my friend, the time you have with him now you will never forget...and you will find the strength to carry on, we are all much stronger beings than we give ourselves credit for...if ever you need to talk to someone who has been in a place very much like the one you are in right now, just let me know.

Prayers for you and your family;)

Unknown said...

First of all..((((hugs!))), second the sketch is great and third,it is normal to have the feelings you're having. Maybe we can talk a little more in depth about this Dean.

I'll email you later tonight.

Anonymous said...

It's not being selfish to want some time and rest for yourself. Medical conditions like this are hard on EVERYONE. You need to make sure you have time to recover between helping's not ungrateful, it's not selfish, it's just what needs to be done so that YOU can keep in good health and keep your sanity.

Dean Grey said...


I will try not to give up!



I'm going to try and do more works of art at their house but it takes some getting used to. After all, their spare bedroom is not the same as my studio space. There's a different creative vibe, if that makes sense.

Watching some humorous videos is definitely worth a shot!



I do believe we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for it's just I don't feel that strong at the moment.



Hugs back at ya, girl!



I hear you and agree!


I appreciate everyone's supportive words!!


jason said...

Sending lots of good energy out there to you.

I've been caretaker more than once, and I know it's hard.

By the way, that drawing really beatuiful! Honestly.

Anonymous said...

I'm sending you all the positive energy I can. Remember to take a break for you and do something you love. I loved the drawing of the fence (wish I could draw); all I can do is abstract paintings lol.

Manon said...

Hi Dean,

Love the sketch!

I believe that tough situations make us stronger. I don't know if that really helps you right now but they really do.
Sometimes we can't see any light at the end but it's there. I don't think you're being selfish for feeling this way.... I would feel the same.

keep yourself strong and know that you have a supportive community!


suzanneberry said...

Hi Dean! Thank you for your comment. Yes, I do seem to have paper on the brain.

First, your self-portrait is both stunning and heartbreaking. Such a gentle, loving soul, so much pain. And secondly, don't berate yourself for feeling trapped. No matter the one who is ill, we still want our lives to continue as they did, filled with joy, not illness and the possibility of death. It's natural and you are there and you are helping.

The lavenders and blues in the painting are just so touching and beautiful. And we, all of us are beautiful, eternal, joyful loving spirit, not flesh. Of course that doesn't help much when we don't know that. We're hurt and destroyed by all that we see and feel.

You are strong and giving. God Bless and keep you and my best wishes for a speedy recovery to your uncle.

best, suz

Dean Grey said...


Thanks for the energy and the kind words!

Glad you like the sketch too!



I'm trying to take a break when I can.

I would love to see your abstract paintings!



I hope you're right about there being light at the end of the tunnel.



I appreciate the thoughtful comment!

Also, I'm glad you like the newest addition to my self-portrait. It's almost done at this point.


Thanks to all of you for the encouragement!


stanw said...

Can't add much more than the great things others have said but just remember you are doing an important and valuable thing in helping care for your uncle. To know you are needed must charge you up some. Love the sketch, great to see beauty in even the simplest things you observe. Just a thought, if you are alive then it IS worth it, and you are definitely alive.

Dean Grey said...


I appreciate the words of wisdom from you!


Carolina said...

I only wish the best for you and your uncle, really. But I'm so bad at making others feel better, that I think my speech stops here. But my prayers are with you and your uncle.
And about the sketch, as you said, it has character, no doubt. I LOVE it!
Desperate drawings (desperate art), is often so good... unfortunately.
Warm regards,

Dean Grey said...


Thank you for the prayers!


Meeko Fabulous said...

Oh Dean. Any time invested is good. I remember when my Nana was in the nursing home those last couple of months. She had no clue who we were because of the Alzheimer's, but then there were those moments of lucidity that made it all well worth it. Hang on and stay strong! :)

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Don't give up Dean! They need you! You can find the strength inside you - just make sure they let you take a couple of hours every day for yourself. Go for a walk, take your sketchbook. Draw, paint, sing, pet a cat or dog - do something which will nourish your soul. You are in my prayers, and I am sending you strength and hope. You're such a good guy. This means so much for them, but being a caretaker is DRAINING. Been there. It's worth it. You're worth it. He's worth it.

Anonymous said...

hi Dean, sorry to hear about your uncle and wonderful to hear how you are supporting him through this tough time... it shows real character, a lack of selfishness and respect. i think the toughest thing for you would be if you were not able to help him and his wife. thank goodness you have the physical and mental strength to be there for them. and each day set a special time aside for yourself: to do your own thing. wishing you all the strength r.

Dean Grey said...


"Any time invested is good."

I will remember that!



I'm trying to set aside some time for myself as you and others have suggested.

Thanks for sending me strength and hope!



You are 100% right!

The toughest part would be if I wasn't able to help both of them. They need all the support they can get right about now!


I appreciate the kind words from the three of you!


kayray said...

you are not selfish. a touch of the caretaker burnout is all. i am a nurse and sometimes find myself getting extremely irritated when it takes me 20minutes to take a weak patient to the bathroom or 2 hours trying to care for a confused person... when I have 12 other things I need to do. talk about feeling guilty. It's not their fault. And that guilt is worse when it's a family member you are caring for. that does not make you a bad person. don't forget that caretakers need to take care of themselves in order to be able to care for others (wow that sounds really cliche). But really, please don't beat yourself up so much! It is extremely stressful to be in your situation.

Dean Grey said...


Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. Your advice is duly noted.

Yeah, I think "caretaker burnout" is accurate.

I can imagine how stressful being a nurse must be. I don't know how you do it every day!

My hat is off to you!

Thanks again!


Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I'm glad you got me over here reading your blog and I remember that we have depression in common, along with many of the artists (and non artists) I know.
For me, medication works. I just had a discussion with one of my studio mates about the very topic and we are both aware that this has been with us since childhood. See a doctor and try some meds because I feel your pain and despair and don't want you to give up.
Life is hard but it's still better than death. I'm sure.

Dean Grey said...


I appreciate the supportive words! It's nice to know I'm not alone in dealing with depression.

I will try not to give up!


Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Not only are you not alone. You are in frightfully dense company. Depression seems to be our National illness. What part of it is physical and what part of it is external, I don't know, but it seems to be everywhere. Take a deep breath.
Your drawings are FABULOUS, BTW!

Dean Grey said...


Hi again!

I'm taking a deep breath. Aaahhhhhh......

Oh, and you're FABULOUS for thinking my drawings are fabulous!

-Dean (^_^)

Anonymous said...

great drawing man.

dude, i'm sure just being there helps alot. maybe you can do somethng to show him tha life is worth living.

Dean Grey said...


Thanks for visiting my blog!

Yes, being there helps but I don't know that I'm the one to convince my uncle that life is worth living when I struggle with wanting to live myself sometimes.