I know exactly why I do it and it’s not because I’m a saint or a particularly self-effacing guy. I’m not patient or generous enough to qualify for sanctification and I have a very healthy ego and really like to have my way in most everything.
I do it, because for me, there was never really a choice, for me, caring for Marty became my sole focus because doing anything else was failing at my most fundamental commitment, caring for the one I love the most.
As with many daunting tasks in life it was less about choosing and more about just simply doing, not thinking, not analyzing, just doing one task, one procedure, one day at a time.
I didn’t choose the job of caregiver. Marty didn’t choose the job of care receiver. Shit happens, strokes happened and what happened gave no room for assessing, developing options and then choosing one of said options. There was one choice, do what I could, develop skills I didn’t have, plan and take care of my wife.
Yes, the whole promise thing, you know the sickness and in health thing is a huge part of it. It turns out that was a real live serious kind of commitment, not just some stuff you say at a wedding that you may or may not remember saying. Who knew?
Marty and I joke for time to time that if the roles were reversed she would have chosen to slap my happy ass (her words) in the nursing home. She grins and laughs and says, “I’d do it in a New York minute, I would put you away and take the rest of the money and play”.
I’m not sure she got the rhyme.
I know different. She is really the one who taught me about taking care of your own; she is the one who modeled caring for your family when they were broken. She saw it from her mother, she saw it from her father as he cared for her mother and she modeled it with our children when they were sick or simply heart sick.
If the roles were reversed I would have sat my happy ass at home where she would have clawed and scratched to take care of me.
I’m not trying to speak for other people in the care giving business. I’m sure there are many out there that sat down and made a conscious decision to give part of their life to caring for someone else. There are millions of young and old alike who take care of hurt or ill children, parents or spouses. We are legion and whether you admit it or not you will be confronted with the issue of either giving care or receiving it at some point in time.
People live longer, we survive more traumas, we fight past more deadly infections, we live with debilitating events more frequently, we know how to extend life. I’m not sure we have figured out how to care for and help people to have that extension of life be a quality extension. It takes someone’s time, money, heart and effort to step forward and wrap themselves around the broken.
The point is that stuff happens to us all and how we immediately react to that stuff probably says less about our fortitude and righteousness than we would like. Some people step up, not because they are somehow inherently more caring or just better humans, they do it because there are no other options, there are no other choices.
I’m not better than, I’m no saint and it gives me the willies just thinking about how I drag down the curve for really altruistic people when I’m compared to them.
I love my wife, today more than ever. I made a promise and it matters to me today more than it did yesterday. Personally, I work better if there are no choices and if I only look at today and choose to care for Marty today.
It’s not much of a choice when it’s the only thing you can do.