Many people become caregivers in life to help those that they love. We are talking about husband and wives, sisters and brothers, cousins and friends. Anyone can become a “Caregiver”. I am going to focus in this article on wives who take care of husband. It might seem a little bit one sided but going through this process I find that my experience is worth sharing. My husband and I would of been married forty-seven years this December 2021. He has had multiple heart attacks and strokes leaving him partially paralyzed, blind, and unable to hear. While he has suffered this now for multiple years he was still pretty much self efficient until this last year.
I was his caregiver 24/7 the last years of his life. What does that mean? Simply put I was his arms, legs, baby setter, nurse, aid and everything necessary to make sure that he could keep going. I did not want him to be put into a nursing home. He had begged me not to put him in home and he tried to be as self sufficient as he could. Here let me advise you make sure that you have plenty of sheets, pads, pj’s, and diapers that you can. While he was with me these things were necessary. It was nothing to wake up in the middle of the night to change his whole bed because being an adult the diaper did not hold it all. Bed pads were really nice to help with this problem.
Feeding can become a problem so make sure that you have a food processor in case you need to chop up his food. You will want spoons and forks that big and have a handle that he can manipulate. Often at this point you will need something to help get his socks on as his feet will swell-up. And house slippers may end up being cut out in the back. My husband was a hearty eater and when he could not I knew he was getting sick. In some cases, a Hoyer lift is necessary to get him up and on the toilet when he is able. You may need to go to the hospital and taught how to use the Hoyer Lift. Then you will find that you need to learn how to do his oxygen tank, give shots, and use other equipment.
While you are doing all the things that a team of nurses and aids do in a nursing home you find that it is a lonely life. All of sudden friends are busy and family is no where to be found. More excuses than most are busy with friends, vacation, parties, kids events etc. Oh they call and say how is dad? But truthfully they don’t like it if ask to do anything. with my husband we had a son who lived across town and he drop in once in while. But as I look back on it he never spent one Christmas or Thanksgiving holiday with us. He always went some place else. The other kids did not live in the area therefore, they had an excuse not to be around. But would make a quick five minute call maybe even ten lol.
Nobody enjoys being old and sick. Seeing the one’s you loved dearly forget you is painful. The children never realized not only was dad not able to get out mom could not either because she was the “caregiver.” Friends quickly fade away even going to church becomes impossible. No more going to lunch or special events! Always I am needed to be with my husband. But you know with all the years of marriage we had many awesome times together. I found just setting and talking to him about the trips we had or the crazy bar-b-q’s made us happy. He play jokes on me once in while. We had many hours of laughing together. We enjoyed talking about politics and current events. We could talk into the wee hours of the night. So all in all I never had a complaint. I was truly grateful for all the extra time that God gave us together.
In the end when he was so badly sick and stayed by his side I was afraid to let go. Then he was suffering so trying to stay for me. That I knew I had to let him go. It was not easy. I thought the children would help. My husband had no life insurance meaning that his service had to be paid in cash. I actually was guilable to believe the kids would pitch in. But that did not happen. They did not pitch-in. And even worse they did not even buy flowers for him. This sadden me that they were so cruel. I admit that they were my step children. I thought for their father’s sake they would be there for him. Not for me mind you but for him.
I made sure that he had the type of funeral that he deserved. He had a full Catholic service and I made sure that all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were involved. I had to pay for everything I did ask them but they took it as an insult that I would ask. And the many things that they did too me was horrible. I could not believe that they were so greedy. I tried to ease things down by telling them no matter what they did their father loved them. If I might say this “Holy Shit” I started a major war. It was like how dare you!!! I am totally disgusted! If I had it to do over I would of had him cremated brought home and not provided anything.
Death can bring out the best of you or it can bring out the worst in you. I hope that those who read this will have heart. That your family will be by your side. I do not wish for anyone to have to suffer because their family wants your home, treats you badly, and thinks that they had all the rights to plan the funeral and do what they want while you pay for it all. I am going to grief counseling and now I understand much. Blaming me is their way of not facing up to their way of not taking on responsibility. They ignored their father when he was alive I think that is because they never thought that he die. Now they cannot face their own guilt. But someday perhaps with time they will.
I am satisfied within myself because I took care of him I loved him and help my husband to have enjoy a good life and able to go through death with dignity. He knew that I was with him and that is what he wanted. I am truly blessed! I pity those who cannot accept his death. He would not want them to feel guilt and I know most of all not behave the way they have towards me. Instead forgive themselves so they can unburden and walk in the light. Their father would wish this for them most of all. I do not hold any ill will towards the children instead I just feel pity and sadness for all of them.