I’m gonna lay it out here. Things are not easy around this house. And most of it has to do with situations that can’t be helped.
Evelyn is not well. She risks falling every time she stands up, so I must stop what I’m doing and go to her, offer her my hand/arm, and lead her to wherever it is she needs to go. Fortunately our home is small, so going from Point A to Point B doesn’t usually require a lot of time, but chalk it up to an interruption nonetheless.
On top of that she suffers from nighttime hallucinations. She almost never has them during the day, but at night, she reaches for things that aren’t there, or carries on conversations in very lucid sentences with people she imagines are engaging her in a dialogue of some kind. While the hallucinations themselves are not scary or otherwise threatening, they do rob her of her sleep so that she’s ready for a nap every morning and again every afternoon.
Her independence has all but been taken from her. If I leave her in bed of a morning and then see her in the doorway of my office (which is at the opposite end of the house from our bedroom), I’m astonished because she managed to toddle her way all that distance. Things that most people – even 70-somethings like us – would take for granted (such as bending over to pick something up from the floor, or walking to the refrigerator to refill a glass of iced tea) would be cause for celebration for Evelyn if they didn’t also carry that great risk of her hurting herself in the process.
It didn’t occur to me how far into the pit of dependence we’ve come over the years, and just how much of an impact Evelyn’s poor health is having on us now, until I imagine how it could be. For example, when both the husband and wife are able to get around independently, things like going grocery shopping could be a shared responsibility. In other words, the wife could take that duty (or whatever needed to be done at the moment) on her own if the husband were involved in another project or responsibility. In our case, Evelyn’s going to the store on her own is totally out of the question. For one thing, she no longer drives with the rare exception of driving our car when we have to go out to the camper storage lot so I can drive the RV. But when we head out to the grocery store, she either accompanies me, or I take care of the duty myself (and when she accompanies me, she can only manage if there’s a scooter available). When that reality struck me, I suddenly realized how severely my options had been reduced.
That’s why anything that needs to be done depends on me to do it (with the exception of things that fall under Karlyn’s purview: her laundry, her room, etc.). I can no longer count on Evelyn to do much more than fold the clean laundry after I’ve washed and dried it. Lately, I’ve been “chief cook and bottle washer” as far as meals and clean up. Ever since her fall last April while she was walking her dog, and she broke a rib and suffered a concussion, walking Kianna has become my sole responsibility. Just today she asked if I could set her up with a chair on our back deck so she could enjoy the nice weather, read her book, sip her iced tea, and keep Kianna out there with her as her companion. Normally, a wife would be able to do those simple kinds of things herself without batting an eye, but they have now become part of my growing job description.
As I said, I sometimes think, “Now, if Evelyn weren’t so sick, she’d be able to run that errand/organize that setting/make those meals/clean that room/and so on and so on. Instead, I have not only my own tasks and routines to tend to, but I have hers as well, even helping her to get showered, dressed, etc. That’s just the way it is, and if I’m going to grumble about anything, I’m going to grumble about her condition and how it’s so severely limited what she can do.
However, I do grumble with gratitude. Gratitude that God continues to keep me strong enough, aware enough, and willing enough to do not only what I personally need to do, but also to take on my wife’s responsibilities as well. If I were equally as limited as she is, our lives would look radically different. So, yes, God, thank you.