Moving to the Center of the Bed: A Book About Creating a New Life
Posted May 14 2009 4:31pm
Moving to the Center of the Bed: The Artful Creation of a Life Alone, by Sheila Weinstein, is a memoir with an interesting twist. If the book had been written by a widow, it would make good reading for someone interested in ' finding themselves' later in life. But “Moving” is written by a woman whose husband is alive, but not well. He has Pick’s disease, a devastating form of dementia that dramatically changes the affected person’s personality.
Weinstein cares for her husband at home, but as things get more difficult, he makes the decision to go to assisted living – without her. This makes a transition which was eventually sure to come easier for her. She didn’t have to do the hard work of making him understand that this move was necessary. However, she did have to work through the fact that they would be, for the first time, living in separate residences.
Weinstein’s book is less about being a caregiver, and more about fulfilling her dreams and finding a satisfying life as a single woman. She is still married, so that new life doesn’t include dating and men, but she' d had a long marriage and though she misses a loving relationship as she ages (her husband becomes unable to be loving), she does find that, step by step, she can develop a life that doesn’t revolve around husband and family.
Weinstein’s husband was gone a lot as they raised their children, so it’s not as shocking to her to be alone as it would be to some women. Her children support her new mission in life – that of finding out who Sheila Weinstein is and what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Not all children would be so supportive.
Weinstein’s husband moves to a nursing home and has a very bad experience. The family does a lot of research and they find an excellent home in California. Weinstein, then living in Florida, doesn’t want to move to California, but is financially able to travel often to be with her husband. Much of what Weinstein does is due to her financial ability. Even though she talks of money issues because of her husband’s disease, it’s obvious she is not left wanting.
But the message of the book – that those who are healthy need to learn to live their lives, rather than be a martyr to the disease of their loved one – is worth reading and absorbing. I know many caregivers who will read this book and think, “In my dreams!” I know others who would think Weinstein should have sacrificed more for the sake of the marriage. But no one should second guess Weinstein for living her life the way she does.
Pick’s disease stole her husband and made him a different man. She sees to it that he is well cared for and pays as much attention to him, personally, as she can handle. She also chooses to continue to grow as Sheila Weinstein rather than sacrifice herself to the cause.
There’s much to gain from reading the book, whether you agree with her choices or not. “Moving to the Center of the Bed,” published by Center of the Bed Publishing is available online.