Kupuna Transitions

Beautiful gifts wrapped in pretty paper and bows recently filled our homes and workplaces as we celebrated the holidays. The anticipation of what was hidden inside, as well as the joy of receiving a new treasure, made the season enjoyable for many. Personally, I was also given a very different type of gift. And trust me, “gift” was the furthest word from my mind as I went through a great challenge throughout the holidays.

Running two businesses, in which great care and attention is required in order to maintain the health, safety and quality of life for older adults, requires a number of caring professionals. I have been blessed to be supported by many such angels through the years. However, week by week over the last month and a half, I lost a number of valued staff members for various reasons. As the demands of around-the-clock caregiving fell upon my shoulders, there were moments when I was amazed that I was still standing and capable of handling it all.


While all of this was going on, I happened to be listening to a CD that spoke to my exact situation of being overwhelmed. The given perspective was that the very challenge that we think we do not want in our lives may very well be a gift. Given all that we desire and work towards, suppose the experience is providing an expansion of understanding that will guide us to where we are meant to be. In other words, we are on the right track when we are experiencing unwanted things.

These words made a great impact on my journey, as I had to rely on my inner strength and determination to once again demonstrate just how much I value the path I am on. My patience was stretched and I found myself depending on the good-heartedness of friends and family to help me through the most demanding part of it. I am so grateful for the understanding and care that surrounded me when I found it necessary to call on support.

Family caregivers are in a position similar to that which I have been in, and I hope this unique way of looking at their experience is helpful. They have recognized that their help was needed in the care of a loved one, and may now find themselves struggling with numerous details and unexpected decisions throughout the day. No matter how much they try to stay on top of things, they never know when they’ll be called on to go above and beyond that which was expected.


Should you find yourself in receipt of the gift of expanded understanding, as I recently did, I hope you will take the time to explore its meaning in your life and travel in the direction you may be called upon to follow. Sometimes getting what we want involves getting a clear picture of what we don’t want as well, in order to be certain about the path we need to take. May the light of hope and good fortune shine upon you in adventures to come.

Karyn Clay is a gerontological specialist who began caring for older adults 23 years ago and earned her B.A. in gerontology from SDSU in 1998. She founded Ho’oNani Day Center in 2002 and Ho’oNani Care Home in 2015, which make up Ho’oNani Adult Care Services, Inc. and are located on the same property in Kamuela. She invites you to join her Caregiving Conversations gatherings at Tutu’s House the first Wednesday of every month.