Being the Caregiver: When Love Really Matters


When two people come together with the intention of creating a lasting bond, it is assumed that love, commitment, and family above all, plus the promise to love and cherish till death are all part of that commitment to each other.

Love trumps everything, but continuous work,openness and frequent conversations between husband and wife are what help to keep partners in tune with each other’s needs.Communication is key  and assists in aiding to iron out those inevitable bumps in the road that will happen along the way.A good thing to remember is that nothing should be assumed and we’re not mind readers. This seems like a simple enough recipe for success in marriage, but as we know relationships are not just black and white, there’s a whole lot of shades of gray…….. way more than 50.

Statistics show that due to genetics and sociological expectations, husbands are more likely to die sooner.This is not good news nor something we wish to discuss or dwell on as we embark on our adventure with our chosen partners . I often hear talk among women as they express their feelings about life with and without men.They speak of the perceived lack of men,and as we age,there is concern about the “burden of being in relationships” and the possibility of having to care for a partner or spouse somewhere down the road.. So often women feel a certain way about the possibility of caring for another person and therefore decide  not  to complicate life with the possibility of being stuck with an albatross around one’s neck.This is all speculation,true,but enough to deter some women from seeking companionship. It is thought that, when dating and partnering after the age of 50 or so, the likelihood that a male partner will get sick first and then die, is very high. Unfortunately statistics support these concerns.

There is also the falsely held belief that the newly widowed,as perceived by others, have gained a new lease on life, and once the grieving is done (which shouldn’t take too long...people surmiseit is presumed that fresh widows now have an opportunity to do whatever they wish, however they choose. Actually this isn’t completely untrue, but I find this projection to be rather myopic and uninformed as it does not take into account that after the death of a spouse, much pain follows the one who is left.

We all have choices, I speak of this often, in my writings.People make choices based on how far they’re willing to extend themselves particularly, as time marches on. Folks tend to lose their wide-eyed optimism, if they ever had it at all,and become more fixed in attitudes with regard to life, love, and dealing with the day to day. If early love experiences have been full of disappointment then many decide to remain on their own. This is a wise choice for some as being alone,especially nowadays,no longer conjures up ideas of the unmarried lonely spinster.We live in a time where there is no longer a stigma attached to being single.Women alone live full,productive,active,vibrant and successful lives.

For a few though,fear drives a lot of pessimistic thoughts and inaction.One can desire to be in a relationship,but remains afraid to step off the curb for fear of getting hit by a truck.If we can alter the way we view love ,life and death there’s always the possibility that we could step off that curb and end up in a place of sheer contentment and joy…that unbearable lightness of being.We just have to make a shift in our thinking.

When I ended up taking care of my husband, it is the thing that became my duty, my obligation, to care for the one who I vowed to care for  “in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” There are many widows who have done the same, and I can think of many men who are and have cared for their spouses upholding their vows way into the foreseeable future. Two of them being Vince Hill and Dan Gasby . I’m sure for them the battle was and is uphill with twists, turns, frustrations and a whole lot of anguish. But they continue on out of love and devotion and knowing that if the roles were reversed Janis would’ve been there for Vince and Barbara would’ve cared for Dan. I know that Chuck would have taken exquisite care of me, but in many ways I’m glad he didn’t have to. As painful as this journey has been for me, I know that Chuck would have been so heartbroken over losing me that I’m glad in some weird way that he didn’t have to experience the aftermath which was heartbreaking grief. It is an experience that I would wish on no one.These are two examples and I can think of a few others,where men have had to care for their spouses.

When I hear people talk about an unwillingness to have to care for a partner, I think then that they are truly doing the correct thing by remaining solo.Relationships begin with the best of intentions and the greatest expectations,but as sure as I am sitting here, unexpected hardships and situations will become woven into the fabric of one’s relationship and folks must be able to step up…..willingly.That’s a big part of what being in love is all about...more than the initial attraction,more than the best of times,it’s about being able to switch gears,weathering the storms, riding the waves, having each other’s backs, and trusting that the love  will carry a couple through life’s highs and lows..

Here’s a question:When faced with a sudden change, do we pack up and leave or do we stand at the ready to care for a loved one? The answer: You will always have a choice, but when we give our heart to another and are entrusted with theirs and vow to cherish our loved one for a lifetime we must  really understand what that means.

Dan does, Vince, Bob Ellison, and countless others who’ve  cared for their spouses knew that there was only one choice.In love matters we have to trust that everything we need to assist our ailing loved ones and those who care for them will be at our disposal, both spiritual and physical. I believe that those of us who are given the responsibility of caring for others, are entrusted with such a task because this is a part of one’s lessons in  Higher Learning.The Universe wishes for us to do our best to keep those promises made. When we need the strength, to get through the darkest of days,we will also have at our disposal all that we need to make it through.I know from experience and yes, as far as men being caretakers, it works both ways.

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