Monday, January 21, 2013

Guest Post: Caroline McGraw, Author, I Was a Stranger to Beauty

I am honored to be able to bring you a guest post by author, Caroline McGraw, who recently released a Kindle Single through ThinkPiecePublishing called, I was a Stranger to Beauty.   Caroline describes herself as “a would-be ‘childhood paleontologist’ who digs for treasure in people” and, as she says, she “writes about finding meaning in the most challenging relationships” at her blog, A Wish Come Clear 
Author, Caroline McGraw

Congratulations are due Caroline as her KindleSingle debuted last week at #3 in Special Needs Memoirs and Special Needs EBooks category on Amazon!  Her book price is only $1.99 and 5% of proceeds from the first month's sales go to L'Arche Washington DC, a caregiving organization that provides homes for life for adults with special needs.  (To purchase the book, please visit here).   

Let’s help push Caroline to the #1 spot!

Caroline has shared an excerpt from her book for caregivers, Your Creed of Care:  How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive) and Caroline is graciously offering a complimentary copy of the book via email.  Please visit Caroline's blog for caregivers, A Wish Come Clear, for your copy.  

Caroline’s excerpt will also be included in the next CareGifters book, Love.  (Details on how to submit an essay, poem or artwork to the CareGifters book can be found here).    

Your Creed of Care:  How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive)
Pitfall #7:  Holding On

I’m not a parent, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be:  letting a babysitter watch your kids, letting them go off to school, to college, to the wider world. Add to that a child with a physical or intellectual disability, and the letting-go gets even more difficult. To let go, to trust another person with your child or sibling? It may seem impossible. Yet, it’s also extremely valuable, both for you and the person you love and care for.

I remember riding with my parents the first time we dropped my brother Willie off for a respite weekend. He’d be spending two days with a group in a local hotel, going to game nights and swimming in the pool. I knew that Willie would have a great time. Even so, I felt a rush of protectiveness and near-panic as he exited the car. I kept feeling a need to check on him, to make sure he was all right. I could tell that my mom felt this need even more than I did. Though she’d met the staff and talked to my brother extensively and prepared long lists of Willie’s routines and double-checked his food, clothes and medication supplies, she still felt anxious. She’d done all she could, but it all felt so insignificant as he disappeared from our sight. We all wanted to hold on to him as we drove away.

After that experience, I understand why one woman I know literally left the country after her brother came to L’Arche [a faith-based non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life in community, where I served as a caregiver for five years]. She knew that, if she stayed within driving distance, she’d be sure to meddle with his care. As my mother did for my brother, this woman made extensive preparations to ensure that her brother would be well cared-for. However, when the moment to let go of her brother’s care came, she felt a strong temptation to hold on.

I’ve met other families who have held on to their children tightly over the years. They continue to treat their adult sons and daughters as children. These parents are holding on to their role as primary caregivers, even as their sons and daughters are trying to make a new home and new life for themselves. It’s always difficult to watch this dynamic, and even more challenging to be a care provider in the middle of it. The adult child in this situation has a choice: they can either rebel against their parents’ holding on, or comply with it...and feel guilty for feeling stifled. Most people choose the latter.

To parents, it can seem as though holding on in this way will keep their child safe. When I watched my brother walk into the hotel, I wanted nothing more than a promise that he would be all right. I wanted a guarantee, even though I know better. There are no guarantees. We can only know that, by holding on too tightly to those we love, we are not loving them as we should. As Martha Beck writes in Steering By Starlight: “The goal of real love is always to set the beloved free.”

We cannot wait for a time when we feel perfectly safe to open our hands.

I cannot thank Caroline enough for sharing her excerpt here.  I’d also like to share an overview Caroline writes of her new book, I was a Stranger to Beauty:

How can you keep loving someone who seems to be destroying your family? And how can you separate a beloved person from their terrible actions? I Was a Stranger to Beauty invites readers to walk the road of loving people as they are ... a narrow, challenging road that leads to vistas of unimagined splendor.

Writer Caroline McGraw shares her arduous (yet joyous) journey toward acceptance of her only sibling, Willie. Willie, a young man on the autism spectrum, struggles with self-injurious and aggressive behavior. Caroline and her parents do their best to offer help and support, but Willie’s behavioral challenges continue. In the face of this seemingly-insurmountable difficulty, can they find a way to carry on as a family?

I Was a Stranger to Beauty follows Caroline as she makes an unexpected transition:  from angry sibling of a young man with autism to full-time caregiver for adults with special needs. After graduating from top-ranked Vassar College, Caroline takes a detour from her plan to write professionally in order to become a live-in direct care worker at a L’Arche home. L’Arche, a faith-based non-profit wherein people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together, is Caroline’s training ground for forgiveness.

As she forges new relationships at L’Arche, Caroline  finds herself  at  the  threshold  of  a  new  space    a  space  of  simplicity,  small  wonders,  and  overarching peace. In her work as a caregiver, Caroline falls in love with people with special needs, and begins to see the kind of things that only they could show her … namely, how to love, and not fear, her brother.


Thank you, Caroline.


Assisted Living Directory said...

Congratulations on your Kindle successs! I really enjoyed reading this post...and loved the phrase you used " would-be ‘childhood paleontologist’ who digs for treasure in people" - awesome!

Wishing you the best of continued success!

Caroline McGraw / A Wish Come Clear said...

Thank you so much, Assisted Living Directory! So glad it resonates with you. :)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Assisted Living Directory, I was fortunate to connect with Caroline and am wishing her much success with her book. Thanks for stopping by!