A letter to the JUNIPER community from our Chief Community Officer and Care Coach Maura Horton
Father’s Advice: A Caregiver’s Perspective
Care Coach Maura Horton Reflects on Father’s Day
My father has given me much guidance throughout my lifetime. I am one of 12 children to two loving parents married for more than 50 years. Six sisters and five brothers, a close-knit Irish family. I remember and live by the core values and beliefs instilled in us either subtly or overtly. My dad is a disciplined Marine, an eternal entrepreneur with a truly remarkable work ethic, a kind soul who always cares for his family and neighbors, and someone who is overly generous with his time and resources. Although he sometimes had a rough exterior as a disciplinarian, his heart's strength and size are more than I could ever imagine. He has watched, heard, seen, lead, supported, molded, nurtured, guided all of us through various challenges, decisions, and moments in our life.
My dad, at times, might have described me as a hardheaded child. I had often insisted on doing things my way, in my time, and on my terms. My dad gave me the latitude to grow, learn, fail and try again. Similar to rinse - lather - repeat.
I still rely on my father for his words of wisdom; however, when he speaks to my children and helps guide them, I am reminded of all that is truly important.
Our oldest recently had the honor of speaking to her graduating class of 400, their parents, grandparents, and supporters. She repeatedly practiced, critiquing minor aspects of how she could do better the next time, all while her nervousness began to grow. My dad watched and listened. The sound advice I heard him give her was simple, direct, and to the point. "Libby, once you get up there, stop, take a deep breath and then just begin." It wasn't, slow down, annunciate, make eye contact. It wasn't making sure everything was perfect, and as I watched, I saw her follow those simple steps.
Hadley speaking at her father's funeral Image Credit: Maura Horton
I'd heard my dad give our youngest, eight-year-old at the time, the same advice before as well. When her father passed away, she was adamant about reciting his favorite poem, The Man in The Mirror, at his funeral service. My dad had a concerned look and an internal feeling of apprehension about her being able to stand in front of a large somber but friendly crowd and deliver. Somehow, I took comfort in knowing she was her father's daughter, and she wouldn't waiver. Just in case, we made alternative plans and suggested that she could do it, but just in case, her sister and a particular former player, who is like family, would stand beside her for support. Just before the service began, I saw my dad pull her aside. He didn't question her or place any doubts by asking if she was sure she wanted to do it. He just said the same thing. "Hadley, once you get up there, stop, take a deep breath, and begin." I visually saw the large inhale and exhale, and with tears flowing from my eyes, I watched her begin. She made us all proud that day, especially my dad on earth and her dad up above.
Stopping and taking a deep breath before starting a day as a caregiver is an essential step of what we do. Sometimes we forget, sometimes we need a reminder, and sometimes we are moving so fast we don't even remember we are breathing. Therefore, the next time you feel a moment shifting, an important doctor's appointment, an overwhelming feeling, a moment of frustration or fear, an inability to juggle all that's before us, a shift in prognosis, my advice would be to... Stop, take a deep breath and begin.
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know