Twenty-four years ago, Darla Israel had her hands full. She was newly divorced and raising two little boys on her own. But her mom needed her. Alma “Sis” Kincaid was only 55 at the time, but a rare, hereditary disease made it unsafe for her to live alone.
Something inside her ignited and pushed her into making a life-changing choice. Israel, one of seven of Kincaid’s children, chose to become her mom’s caregiver.
“My mom is my mom and you only get one,” she said.
Israel, who lives in Indianapolis around the Fountain Square area, will receive CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions’ 2018 Caregiver of the Year Award on Wednesday during the organization’s ninth annual Signature Breakfast. The award was created in 2011 to honor a central Indiana caregiver who models courage, sacrifice, strength and creativity while caring for another.
“I realized the care I was giving – by giving mom her shots, changing her, bathing her and doing therapy with her – were things I never imagined having the strength to do,” she said. “The strength I found inside and the love I felt for my mom got me through the difficult parts.”
Israel cared for her mom until last fall, when she died at age 79.
“Darla is not just a caregiver full of compassion, love and dedication,” said niece Miranda Brickley, who nominated her for the award. “She is a hero. She’s someone who, because life happened, grew strong, took courage in herself and found that life presents us the greatest gifts when we make ourselves, by our actions and deeds, a gift to others.”
Some day, Israel knows she may need to lean on her children, as she also has the disease her mother faced.
She offers a simple advice to caregivers.
“Have a kind heart,” she said. “That’s what my mom always told me.”
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CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions is a not-for-profit agency that provides information, advocacy and support services for older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers. For more information about CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, visit www.CICOA.org.