WOODSFIELD - Pandora Neuhart hops out of bed every morning, ready to put in a full day's work.
And as the Monroe County Auditor, there's plenty of work to be had. Afterward, she jumps in her car to head home to begin another full-time position.
But this other career is a labor of love, one Neuhart couldn't imagine anyone else doing.
PANDORA?NEUHART of Woodsfield was named one of the Ohio Department of Aging’s Elder Caregivers of the Year for her work in caring for her father, James.
Sine 1998, Neuhart has served as the advocate and caregiver of her father James Neuhart, who recently turned 93 on April 26.
It's a job she does willingly and doesn't require credit to perform. But credit she will receive Thursday, May 26 when she will join other recipients in being named an Elder Caregiver of the Year by the Ohio Department of Aging.
''I do feel very humbled and honored to have this award,'' Pandora said. ''There are so many people out there doing this that deserve the award.''
Back in 1998, James Neuhart was recovering from cancer when the cells metastasized to his spine.
As he received radiation treatment, his spine became weakened. One day while in bed, James rolled over and fractured two vertebrae.
Pandora explained that incident was just the beginning of multiple problems for her father.
So Pandora and her sister, who came down from Akron to assists with their father for five years, set to task of preparing the family home to take care of James.
More than 10 years later, James is alive and kicking. Pandora credits her father's spirit to his upbringing and the trials he endured as a youth.
''The people that lived through the depression and the time of the first world war, they are made out of a different mold,'' Pandora said. ''Their constitution to live is just unbelievable. I think the younger generation would have given up a long time ago.''
James' fortitude likely plays a large role. As does his daughter.
She doesn't believe James would do well in a nursing home. Currently he only makes occasional trips for rehab and treatment, but his primary residence is with Pandora.
It's a blessing James is likely thankful for, although he'd never admit it.
''My dad feels guilty that I'm taking care of him,'' Neuhart said.
''I don't know why. He took care of me for 50 years; I think I can take of him now.
''He's been so instrumental in my life I would not be where I am without him.''
But Pandora doesn't do it alone, a fact she is quick to admit.
While she works as the county's auditor, helpers that help take care of James' while she's at work.
''They come at 7 a.m. and they stay until 4-4:15 p.m., whenever I get home,'' Pandora said. ''And I do have a lady that will come and stay if I'm exhausted and need some rest or she'll come for a couple of hours if I have a meeting.
''I don't end up missing too many things.''
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org