Two words I’ve learned a lot about over the years. Caregivers and hope.
A caregiver can be a wife, a husband, a sister, a son, a grand daughter, it’s a long list. What they all do is help people like me. When I got married I said those vows, my wife said those vows, you remember them, ”For Better or for Worse.” Didn’t think about them too much on our wedding day. And truthfully didn’t think about them as we were busily taking care of other things, kids, jobs, vacations, bills, just living life.
And then my stroke hit.
Those vows took on an even bigger meaning. The 'for better 'part? Pretty easy. The 'for worse' part, a bit trickier. After my stroke I found myself trying to make sense of being blindsided. I was in the hospital where I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself, heck I couldn’t even get out of the bed. I used to wait for the doctor to tell me how I was that day. I love to read, it was too hard to concentrate to make that happen. I love Jeopardy, couldn’t follow television at all. I was tired all.the.time. Took naps all.the.time. There was more but you get the picture.
That’s when my wife turned into my caregiver.
What do caregivers do? They champion every little thing YOU do. Hold your hand when you need it. Feed you when you need it. Help you do things that aren’t spoken about out loud. But help you do them. And quietly wonder about the future and wonder how they, we, got here. When I finally went home, it was even more intense for her. Help you walk, help you talk, help you with therapy. Drive you to therapy. I had a bench in the shower, she used to shave me, cut my food, help me get dressed. Buttons were always a problem. Playing with our kids, our young kids, was hard. Everything was hard.
She helped bring me back to life.
What did I learn over the years? That angels walk this Earth. That saints do, too. Look in to the eyes of a caregiver and you will see kindness and love looking back. Sounds like harps should be playing and trumpets blowing. Well, they should. There are some people who leave with a, ”I didn’t sign up for this.” There are many who don’t and to them I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I’ve always said that hope is a powerful thing. It is. When you are a survivor you have to have something to shoot for. A reason to get up every day. Hope is that thing. It’s a reason to think things will get better. Many people have no idea of the world we survivors live in. I’ll let you in on a little secret. My stroke was almost nine years ago. Sometimes it still feels like it was yesterday. I still read aloud just about every day. I still exercise just about every day. I still think everybody knows. They don’t, but you think they do. When you have a stroke other people forget, you never do. And that’s where hope comes in. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that the future will be much better than the past.
One of my favorite quotes is a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.
Amen to that.
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