Omoiyare is a Japanese custom which means to be caring, considerate and compassionate towards others' needs.
Omoiyare is about meeting others’ needs. But Omiyare, the poem, also points out that caregivers have needs. A caregiver I met recently told me: “It fills my heart when I’m appreciated”.
There will be no Nobel Prize for what we do,
no trip to Sweden, no medals, gold, silver or bronze.
But here we stand, Caregivers, past and present, preserving for all generations,
this lesson learned in what it means to be human...
Once we abandon this heritage, all the years spent,
day after day, year after year, in the shadow of the thief...
all would have been for naught. Bruised, frayed, tattered,
like a flag after battle, we stand with Human Kindness and Compassion,
a legacy for ages hence.
© Frances Kakugawa
Frances Kakugawa has written 16 books including 3 books of poetry and information on caregiving for adults, and one book for children on giving care.
In 2002 she was recognized in the Living Legacy: Outstanding Women of the 20th Century in Hawaii book.
I Am Somebody (Watermark Publishing, 2014) is a reminder that both loved one and caregiver deserve compassion, respect and a life with dignity. As a caregiver for her Alzheimer's-afflicted mother for many years, Kakugawa often felt embattled and at odds with her mother.
Through writing, she had a revelation. "I wrote a poem, from my mother's point of view, imagining what she would say: 'When I soil my clothing, or do something absurd, / Do not tell me, "Why didn't you?" / If I could, I would.' This idea came to haunt me and became my mantra whenever I wanted to shout in exasperation, 'Why did you?' or 'Why didn't you?'"
On September 23, 2021, Melissa commented:
I love this! Use of poetry is wonderful. Alix’s poem is perfect representation of the caregiver experience in a lovely art form. I wish I did poetry when I was a caregiver- so creative and healing at the same time! Please continue to share as part of your blog – maybe feature caregiver corner of poems.