Last week I read an article, I don’t remember where, on the difficulty of caring for an ill spouse, which set my mind wandering as usual. Funny, because the very next day I noticed another article on the exact same issue. This second piece offered research information, which indicated it is more difficult to care for a spouse than a parent. Basically, because the spouse does what nurses usually do such as bathing, and administering medication. Nowadays, finances do not allow for these luxuries. Hubby thinks this piece is dark and depressing, and that may very well be, but in reality this is what happens. So, let’s begin at the beginning. You’re a young couple, 25 and 29 or 24 and 26 – that age where you believe you probably won’t even be around at the age of 50 – that’s just how far in the future you believe that number to be. The two of you are pretty familiar with the medical history of each family, but hey, at 26 you are both invincible.
Together you do everything needed to put on a wedding; paper work, blood tests, reception venues. When you stand beside each other, and repeat those vows – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health – you understand them, the words come from the heart, you don’t even stutter when they come across your lips. However, again, that is the indestructibility of the age; the strength of you two as a couple. We would be labeled unstable if we stood there peering that far into the future, am I right? I don’t think there is anyone who has gotten married, and while standing before the minister/priest confess to thinking of gray hair, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Or, let’s just say, I don’t think anyone would admit to that. To paint a clearer picture, I remember being a young newlywed. I can’t recall what hubby and I were discussing, but he mentioned something to the effect, “You know, when I pass away. None of us are gonna live forever.” Well, can I just say how that comment upset me. But, we all grow up and mature in the process, yes?
I would liken it to a child who has been away from home for a while, or even at three-month clips. Each time he/she visits they notice the aging parent. As a couple, every once and again, when you walk by the mirror you’re halted in your steps. You wonder who that is gazing back. Your brain still thinks; continues to sum up scenarios the same as it did when you were 30, but in some shocking and accelerated means the body has not remained behind with that still young brain. Yes, most mornings, you go through the ritual – brush your teeth, shower, wash your hair, powder, lotion, what have you, and get on your way. However, every now and again, maybe once a month, that not so young person hiding behind the 30-year-old brain runs into, and has to acknowledge the seasoned body. And, can I just say, it’s like being smacked in the face by a three hundred pound Sumo wrestler.
With all of this in mind, no one is privy to which body will begin to fall apart first – you each just go about your day-to-day chores. My co-worker told me a heartbreaking story of a senior, in his eighties belonging to her church. One Sunday, after service, he broke down sobbing in a back room. He had a wife with dementia, and he had been the sole caregiver. Unfortunately, this poor gentlemen had reached his end, and just had to let it all out – for better, for worse…..in sickness and in health, remember? Where am I going with this story? Couples get married everyday. They begin their lives together, but no one is able or thinks or cares to peer that far into the future. Whatever life hands out, you have to take. Once the medical issues begin, no one gets divorced or runs away, because they’re afraid of what may happen next. You “buck up” and deal with it all, no matter how minuscule or how serious. Usually, by this time, you’ve been married so many years, one cannot think of life without the other. What made me want to expand on this topic? Because, like most of my friends, we are right around the corner from this situation, and I do not know if I’m ready. But, as I said before we all have to take what life hands out. What is it that I believe works best in all of this? An attitude of positivity.
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