My husband has the unpleasant duty of bringing his totally mentally coherent mother to a nursing home today because her body has degenerated to a point where she requires total assistance. She doesn't want to be a burden on anyone. She's been insistent on going. She's always been unmettling and uncomplaining the near 20 years I've been married to her son. A bit of a martyr, if you ask me. I was more than happy to assist her in getting dressed for Easter Dinner yesterday, but I could sense her utter embarrassment at having me do this. I wanted to help her because I love her and have known her over half my life; how could I not want to help her? It's funny that I'm a nurse, but I was never very comfortable with the direct bedside care of perfect strangers, yet to help someone I love to get dressed is nothing.
I was thinking back to the very first time I laid eyes on my future husband, first considering him as a romantic possibility. I was 20 year old Akron U. student, floundering undecided between majors. He was in one of my anthropology classes, Indians of North America. He was tall, quiet, obviously shy, but smart too...he often raised his hands with the answers to the professor's questions. We had a special guest lecturer come into our class. It was some doctoral student torturing us with a monotonous reading of his dry as hell dissertation on Italian female martyrs. I was sitting right next to this the boyishly tall good-looking man that knew all the answers. I was sweating. His presence next to me was something I couldn't tune out, yet I stifled many yawns during the lecture...was in total hell to stay awake through this drivel. I couldn't relate anyway...martyres..don't understand them a bit. All that dishonest stuffing of feelings and pretending to be OK when they were really in pain and suffering miserably. No thank you, siree...if I'm suffering and in pain...I want to share with all around me. When the lecturer blessedly left the room to take a break, I said to the boyishly good-looking man, "Boy, this is really pretty boring isn't it?" The bespectacled man looked at me like I was a dim-witted pile of shit, and said, "Actually...I think it's quite interesting."
Well....I guess I won't entertain further fantasies of hooking up with this guy! Later...I found out the bespectacled quiet man was going to be one of a handful of students going to the same field school as I to Poverty Point, Louisiana. To make a very long story, short...I invited him to come crawl into my sleeping bag one moonlit evening of the dig. He crawled right in. Easy as pie. Man in the bag! We've been together ever since; he claims now that he was merely trying to impress me by acting overly interested in that horrid dryly delivered dirge about martryrs. He was slightly interested, though, cause he's noticed that martyre like quality among the females in his extended family.
I was getting ready for work and he was getting ready for the unpleasant task of moving her to the ritzy nursing home out in Wooster. He understands why she wants to go. He said, "I wouldn't want the ones I love have to deal with my bodily functions. Just put me in a nursing home when that time comes." I told him that I'm plenty accustomed to his bodily functions...I would take care of him...cause I love him. I would wipe his butt without a minutes hesitation. We've seen eachother at our best and at our worst.
I told him my aim is to stay healthy and running races with my great grandchildren, best case scenario that I just drop over one day running, but if a time comes that I'm unable to care for myself, you better make sure I'm crazy as a loon with dementia if you're going to put me in a nursing home or I will go kicking and screaming like a former redhaired banshee. I don't think I'd like strangers to take care of me, cause they just can't do it like someone that loves you on several levels. I know this is a very personal thing, but I told him how I feel about it. If he wants to stay with me...and I with him...then we are in it for the long haul.