After his wife's diagnosis, he became her caretaker. One woman's gift is helping him continue.

12 years ago, Brent's wife, Ruth, noticed that one of her fingers was stiff and she had trouble holding it still.

It was the first sign of Parkinson's. The disease eventually spread its symptoms to the rest of her body, leaving her with severely limited mobility. Ruth now needs help with everything from eating to turning over when she gets uncomfortable during the night.

When Brent helps her, he just sees it as an extension of loving and caring for his wife before the Parkinson's.


He is his wife's caregiver. He helps her eat, walk, and do small stuff like "scratching her nose," he says. The couple attends church together as well.

But one thing got in the way: their van.

They drove to church, and everywhere else, in the van they'd had for countless years. Well-loved but worn down at over 270,000 miles, the van was rapidly deteriorating.

GIFs via David West/"The Van"/YouTube.

"It would start up and drive and then when it got hot, and we stopped, it would leave us stranded," says Brent in the video. If he tried to jump-start it, things would often start smoking, particularly the air conditioning.

Finally, it was someone else's turn to take on some of the burden and care for both Brent and Ruth.

Janet West had purchased a new car, and her previous Honda van was in need of a new home. With so many family memories in the van, Janet wanted to pass it on to another family where it could accumulate even more.

Not long after she purchased her new car, someone at church praised Janet's son for helping a family from the congregation repair their vehicle in the parking lot. It was Brent and Ruth's old van, breaking down again as they tried to make their way home after that day's service.

So she just gave them her old one.

It was a simple decision for her, but the new van has been a "wonderful blessing" for Brent and Ruth. Without the constant need to repair or restart their vehicle, Brent can better care for his wife and make sure she's comfortable.

"Lots of times people think in order to bless other people it takes huge financial gifts, [but] I was able to figure out something that was a very simple thing," says Janet.

As for being his wife's caregiver, Brent says, "I feel privileged to be able to do this."

Caregivers are all around us and they need care, too.

  • 55% of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs. (AARP)
  • Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) family caregivers report a moderate (20%) to high degree (18%) of financial strain as a result of providing care. (AARP)
  • In 2014, 60% of family caregivers had full- or part-time jobs. (AARP)

Maybe you know someone in your life who acts as a caregiver to friend or family member. Maybe there's an unpaid caregiver in your community who you haven't gotten to know. It's these people who need your support.

For people who already give so much of themselves to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable, help is a priceless gift.

"I think it is really important that we are aware of those people who are caregivers," says Brent. "They do need the extra help."

Watch Brent and Ruth's story in this awesome PSA below:

More
True
Ad Council + AARP
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular