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Richard R. , Utah

“Absolutely one of the hardest jobs”

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Richard Robinson has lived his whole life in Utah. Growing up, Richard did not have it easy; both of his biological parents had drug and alcohol problems. When Richard was five years old, both his biological parents committed suicide. After this tragedy, he was put in foster care and shuffled from family to family. Two years later, he moved in with the Robinson family and was adopted shortly thereafter.

“The Robinsons and I had a pretty rocky relationship,” Richard remembered. A few months before his 16th birthday, Richard was kicked out of the house and from the age of 15 on, Richard lived on his own. “There were times where I was scared,” Richard said, “but what can you do?”

After he was kicked out of the house, Richard said he wasn’t really interested in having a relationship with his adoptive parents. But later in life, he started to reach out to them and meet up with them periodically, which was when he realized they needed help. Both of his parents had congestive heart failure, and his father had suffered from a series of strokes. His mother had tremors disease that was so bad she couldn’t even feed herself.

Richard and his wife Sondra took over to become their full-time caregivers. As their conditions worsened, Richard and Sondra did everything for his parents, from cooking and cleaning, to feeding them and taking them to the restroom. At first Richard was able to continue his work as a truck driver and take care of his parents, but he eventually had to quit his job. Previously, Richard was injured on a job when three tons of steel fell on his body, which he recovered from and resumed full-time employment. But the physical toll of taking care of his parents exacerbated his physical pain, resulting in his inability to work full-time and take care of his parents at the same time. Therefore, he had to make a tough choice to leave his job in order to care for them full-time.

Richard would like to ask members of Congress to spend 30 days working as a caregiver. “It’s hard for people who haven’t been there to understand that this is absolutely one of the hardest jobs that you could ever hope to do.”

Richard said that taking care of his parents in their final years was harder than being a long-haul truck driver. “[Caregiving] is both physical and a whole lot more mental, which can be extremely difficult.” But Richard also noted; “It wasn’t only the hardest couple of years I’ve ever had, but it was also the most rewarding. It was a blessing all the way around. I’m very, very happy that I had the opportunity.”

After about three years of living under Richard’s care, both of his parents passed away. “I was very happy to be holding the hands of both my mom and my dad when they died.”