oldsunbird

"I have been more outrageous and more alone and more courageous than the world has known. Passerby, my heart is like your own."

More About Me

I just started following a blogger whose husband is ill and she has to care for him.  Almost all her thoughts and moves are affected by how her husband will react.   She plans her life around him and his needs.

I understand where she’s coming from; I, too, was once a caretaker for my husband.  Keeping him safe and happy was my life’s work.  It was difficult at times, but mostly it was rewarding.

And this is why:

We were in our late 70’s when he became ill.  Our children had long left the nest and lived in other towns.  We’d lost two sons, along with many other friends and relatives.  We mostly had just each other.  I was a retired psychiatric nurse, and chose that profession because my heart went out to those in need and I wanted to help them.  I especially related to the sick, as I’d been quite ill as a child, often separated from friends and family, trying to deal with my fears and discomforts alone.  My mother took good physical care of me but was too busy or unaware of how to comfort a sick, scared child.  She never spoke of or explained my illnesses to me.  Basically, I was just put to bed in a bedroom and left to my own devices.

Mother had always wanted to be a nurse, but she lost her father and brother before penicillin was discovered and had to quit school and go to work to help with the family bills.  Her nursing aspirations were carried into her adulthood.  She saw that I and my bed were clean and that I was well fed.  When I had Scarlet Fever, she rubbed my rash with calamine lotion.  She boiled my sheets and everything that came out of my room.  When she learned that I had Rheumatic Fever, she cried on the bus on the way home from the doctor’s.  I knew then that something bad was wrong with me, but I had no idea what it was or what was going to happen.   The treatment for Rheumatic Fever back then was bed rest.  There were no medications to treat it with.

Anyway, after I retired as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I missed practicing my calling.  And with the boys gone and no one to take care of, I needed a reason to get up in the morning.

My husband was a strong, controlling individual.  He made the important decisions in our family, and I was happy to let him do that.  I’ve always been a sensitive, introverted individual, never really sure of myself, afraid to take the initiative.

Then, after Forrest became ill, first with Alzheimer’s, then with COPD, hypertension, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, and colon cancer, I gradually had to become the decision maker and performer of all the household duties.  I gained confidence, and, in fact, enjoyed being responsible.

But most of all, I enjoyed taking care of my husband—cooking his meals, buying his special treats at the grocers, seeing that he had his oxygen, clothes to keep warm, bringing his meals to him in the TV room after it was too much effort for him to come to the table, taking him to his doctors’ appointments, wheeling him in the wheelchair.  We’d sit on the patio, watch the birds build nests, the trees grow, flowers bloom.   Sometimes, we’d watch TV together, or I’d watch while he slept in a chair across from me.  We were together.  We connected.  Not only was he allowing me to care for him, he was enjoying it.  Sadly, it was our best time as a married couple.

The woman I spoke of at the beginning of this blog lives in Australia on a bird farm.  Our experiences with illness are not quite the same, but, still, I can empathize with her.  Her blog address is:  http://jmgoyder.com/    She’s courageous, admirable and an inspiration.  I think you might find her blog worth the visit.

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13 thoughts on “More About Me

  1. This was a beautiful story in so many ways. I enjoyed so much hearing about your life as an ill child. It made me think of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “the Land of Counterpane.” I think we have similar personalities, judging by what you wrote here. I’m enjoying your blog and thank you for sharing the other woman’s blog link!

    • Oh my gosh! I’d forgotten about “The Land of Counterpane.” And it does seem to fit, except, instead of tin soldiers, I made believe with paper dolls. I think we do have a few things in common, one, of course, our love for reading as children. I read all the Nancy Drew mysteries. My favorite book was “Daddy Long-Legs.” And, of course, I loved “Little Women.” I hope you enjoy the other woman’s link.

  2. Oh Mary! Thank you so much for sharing some more of your life with us. You write with such sensitivity and insight, and I take much comfort from your words. I’ve missed your posts! Love, love, love to you xoxo

    • Dear sweet Nicole, Thank you so much for your kind words about my post. I am honored that you want to know more about me. You warm my heart. Blessings and love to you. XO

  3. i know how you feel about being a caretaker of a family member i took care of my mother and father for ten years till my father passed away. it was hard work with little pay but i loved it. the money ran out because of the medical costs and my sister is still taking care of my 90 year old mother and now she loves care taking too

  4. Yes, Mary, I agree with Cauldrons and Cupcakes. I love your words. Everyone of them. Keep those posts coming. We just cannot get enough of them.

  5. What a wonderful helpmate you were to your husband, Mary. You definitely were given the gift of nurturing.

  6. Thank you for this post. You have been through a lot and took on life’s challenges with courage. I admire you. May you continue to stride forward with the same determination. Best wishes

  7. Elizabeth, thank you so much for your comment & wishes. We all have challenges to deal with. Welcome to the world, right? But having the love and support of others makes it so much easier.

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