Women just know what you mean

Linda, Age 66

My husband is ill and has been for the past, what seems like 20 years. As his condition worsened I retired early to be his caretaker. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Although I am technically not 70 yet, I am close and feel every bit that age.

I was a full time Human Resources Executive, for over 30 years. I believe the nurturing, helping people cope, as well as problem solving skills, are still being used daily. Being a baby boomer and given my value system, family came first in spite of my career demands. I put in long days at work, but many times those started at 5am rather than stay at the office till 7pm as often as I could, so I could also fulfill my family duties. Looking back I regret that, but I am as guilty as my family for creating and sustaining that. However I believe that made me stronger and prepared me for the role I play today. A woman today would never do that.

I found being home full time time was making me “crazy” so I work outside the home very part time just to see and meet people. The money is a pittance, but needed, given all of todays high medical and co-pay costs. The interaction I receive through working is irreplaceable. My tasks at home grow each day as his health declines however, I would not be able to cope or do this if it weren’t for my woman friends. How long will I “be able” to work is anyone’s guess, but it keep me vital in the meantime.

In the recent history I have lost 2 very dear friends. I have lost parents, a brother and 2 sisters, but nothing compares to losing a dear friend. They don’t send cards and send casseroles when you lose a friend. Friends are my glue to the outside world, without my female friends I’d be lost, whether they live 2 miles or 2000 miles away. Women just know what you mean, even if they haven’t experienced it, their compassion and ability to “hear” you is something you can not describe or put into words. Losing my best friend to an untimely death was like losing my right arm, it would have been easier to sever that arm. Nothing replaces the interaction and friendship she provided.

The thing I miss most about my husband is how we use to talk, the deep discussion about boundless subjects. Conversations with him now are near impossible and anything of depth is near impossible. Yet he was my most intimate friend. Only another woman gets that. Another woman understands that …most people don’t.

An hour conversation with a woman friend, a quick coffee, is like elixir. That time revives me. That time gives me strength. I expect that need to only grow as the years do.

I try to stay active by reading, its hard to be out of the house anymore than I have to. I lack craft and or artistic ability, but enjoy a good book or a provocative article, so I look forward to joining book clubs when my situation changes and that opportunity presents itself.

I guess that’s how we refer to “it” now, when our situation changes.

This entry was posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Networking, What do we do with our time? and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Women just know what you mean

  1. Joan says:

    Audrey,
    What a timely article.

    When can we “grab a cup of coffee”

    Hang in there girlfriend
    Joan

  2. Beverly M says:

    I was inspired by reading your message – especially how we need each other to thrive. I wish you the best of everything.

  3. Gen says:

    I am sending this to you because I was a nurse for 26 years, and I worked Hospice for a long time. Is your husband on Hospice? I think that it’s still taken care of by medicare or Medicaid, one or the other, I was never a financial person for the care, I was on the other side, the medical. I’m not sure how hospice works now but I know that I took care of one lady on hospice, they said she had six months to live so she was hospice and she lived for three years, I don’t think the family paid a dime for hospice care.
    Anyway – you might call your local senior center and see if they have suggestions for help for you so that you can get out from under things more. It is very hard to be a care-taker, seriously hard! There have been books written about taking care of a loved one and the losses that come about.
    I am stronger now and I have a serious illness, but I’m independent and I work. There was a long while when I had to have help, was in a wheelchair and had to learn how to walk again, it was a pain for everyone all the way around so I know something of your husband’s side too. When I worked anywhere as a nurse, it didn’t matter the circumstances I always said that there is a common equal ground between the condition of the patient, the loved one being taken care of – and the mental health of the family because one affects the other equally.
    I think my only suggestion is to get help for you to get out and do things more; and maybe take up a hobby? Lately I’ve been interested in melting glass art, I watch all the videos on you-tube, got a glass art set for Christmas.
    I hope you don’t mind this note, I’m just sharing from what I’ve seen and personally know.
    I hope for the best for you and for your husband. You know that now I’ll be thinking of you!

  4. joe says:

    It isn’t just a female thing. I have been a caretaker for my wife for over 20 years. She has changed from a loving adorable wife to a very negative, argumentavie and bitter old lady. I have promised her I would take care of her for as long as I can so she will never see the inside of a nursing home. As every day goes by, I find it more and more difficult to keep this promise. I feel so alone and unloved, yet I know I must persevere until death do us part.

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Joe,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. You sound like a very devoted husband.

      Yours is the plight of many as we age. Being a caregiver can be very isolating and stressful. We’re sorry to hear about the decline of your wife, and can understand your despair. This is a very hard job to do alone.

      Much has been written about the need for caregivers to find ways to take care of themselves. Can you find someone to stay with your wife, now and then, to allow you to take a break, perhaps to get out of the house? Any family members, friends, neighbors who can help?

      Some towns have senior centers or day care programs for respite; a place your wife might stay for a few hours at a time.

      If and when the task seems overwhelming, you might think about what your wife would do if the tables were turned, and she were taking care of you. If you can’t find a way to get help to come to the house, you might have to go to where there is trained assistance.

      Our thoughts are with you,
      Jane and Ellen

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