“I Am Her Caretaker”
A Short Story
I am considered her caretaker.
She is my wife of the past 60 years. Bedridden, with various incurable ailments, I am there every hour of every day to do what I can to care for her.
I am 80 years old, as she is as well. I cook for her, feed her, talk with her when she’s lucid enough to talk. I bathe her, clean up her diapers, hold her late at night until she goes to sleep.
Several strokes have left her mental state of that of a vegetable. When awake, she watches TV for a few minutes, and then imagines goblins after her for the unimaginable. No matter my words of comfort offered, she shakes from fear of those after her, who don’t exist.
Our children come to give me a spell to myself every other day. She accuses them of conspiring against her, concocting schemes to send her away from here.
Her reality each day is torment of a damaged mind. My reality is knowing the funds needed to provide care for her in some type of skilled nursing facility, where costs are upward of $10k a month, are impossible. And even more impossible is to consider for even a moment, that I would send her away.
So, I remain her caretaker.
I am not bitter about it. The only woman I’ve ever loved still remains with me, and I am the only one who can care for her.
One never imagines, nor can they, of what life might be like 20, 40 or 60 years into the future.
At 20 years of marriage, I thought my wife to be the sexiest, most brilliant, most beautiful woman I’d ever met.
At 40 years of marriage, I marveled at her wit, loved to hear her laugh, was still enchanted with her sense of humor – all the things about her that I loved from the moment I met her, I continued to love.
And now, at 60 years of marriage, I am her caretaker.
Her mind is gone, her laughter is no longer heard. Her beautiful smile has been supplanted with expressions of pain upon her face that I’ve never witnessed in our 60 years of marriage.
How do I feel? Lost and helpless – most times despondent – for whatever care I give to her each day, will not erase a smidgen of the pain she endures each day.
But then, in moments that the world never sees, I am all she has, and I see a glimmer lighting through the heavens, that such is enough.
I am the words I’ve spoken to her in the years past; I am the words of poets she loved to read years ago. I am the silent comfort she can sense; I am the love she knows.
I am her caretaker, I am her husband…and I will love her forever.
Tonight’s musical offering:
The Beatles – “I Will”