So it’s been four years since the demise of my life. Four years that seemed to fly by without any concern of COVID at all. Sure, I’m vaccinated, but there has been so much stuff happening, that it placed a cautious tenth place in my life. It probably wouldn’t have been so cautious without my elderly parents.
My Father passed away on October 13th and it’s been a huge adjustment for myself, my Mother and my Brother. It’s quieter. Somewhat less stressful since we no longer have the worry of my Father falling. No more Hockey on the TV. No more shuffling with his walker as I lay sleeping in my room downstairs. It’s just quiet. I hope my Dad is looking down and knowing how dearly he is missed.
The Caregiver’s Story
I’m getting ahead of myself though.
All my life, I’ve been a caregiver. I’ve coddled a little too much, and put myself on the back burner way too many times. However, as I grow into this new self, I regret nothing that I was so bitter about a few years ago. That was my job as a wife, a mother, and a friend at times. I was meant to be a family gal. For many years, either my ex or I would travel down to Gaspe to pick up my parents before Christmas and return them safely back to their home in April. All to avoid the crazy weather Gaspe gets. We took care of them while taking care of our family.
My parents took care of me since 2018 and, for that, I’m forever grateful. I truly wouldn’t have survived if they were not alive and I probably wouldn’t have cared.
Fast forward to 2021. It was a pretty good year. My Mother had some medical issues, Dad stayed the same, I was moving on after graduating from college and moved in with someone who I’ve known since 2019. But, that’s a whole other blog post.
2022 was much the same but with freedom from COVID.
Summer of the Sick
I decided in the Summer after landing a full time role at my workplace that I’d forgo spousal support, which I was possibly entitled to until 65. That would entailed spending money, going to court, and I couldn’t be bothered anymore. I was tired of fighting for the things I deserved after years of commitment. It was costly, draining and emotionally charging. It was just time to move on.
I was making fair money and I felt finally mentally stable enough to forge ahead with my own life. That, and I was living with someone, so the guilt ate me up. He was happy when I proposed it, and I was happy that I was moving on.
I found out at that time, during the shuffle of court documents, that my ex-husband was ill and required a surgery. Little did we know that his illness was far worse than anticipated.
That said, as my dear old sister-in-law would preach, that is his story. Little does she know that stories intermingle, especially with children that you love. Perhaps that’s why I’m no longer married. I see stories, life, and relationships far different. Every person who comes into your life leaves a footprint on your heart. Doesn’t matter how minor.
My Dad started getting weaker from either his Parkinsons, Spinal Stenosis, or his Prostate Cancer during the Summer months. It was slow, but Jamie and I made a special point to sleep over a night or two during the week. Then he fell on September 17, and it was all downhill from there.
I saw the type of guy that Jamie was during this time. He’d do anything for Dad. He’d pick him up at 2am and shuffle him to the bathroom. He cooked non-stop so there was food in the house for us. He took care of Mom by giving words of wisdom. He may have faults, but god darn it, he was the best partner I could have ever had during that month.
Thoughts about Caregiving and the Shift
I always thought that “til death do you part” meant something. In today’s changing World, it means until the death of a marriage. I always imagined that if my spouse got sick, I’d be taking care of him, being there for him, and encouraging him to lift his spirits when he was down. He’d also do the same. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?
But that’s not the case.
Instead, I’ve moved back to my parent’s home to do exact that for my Mother. At times it can be so energy draining. She doesn’t remember anything, but she can still make carrot cake. I have to make sure she’s on top of everything. I can’t ask her to call the government or anything regarding her finances. I have to do it because she’ll forget why she’s calling.
God had completely different plans for me. He showed me this year where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do.
I was driving home tonight and was thinking rather hard about the hardships my children now have to face. They may have “lived” with us for many years, but they truly haven’t “lived” as us. I learned this when my Father was ill and was so worried about how my Mother would cope without him. They were a duo; One with the brains and the other with the physical capabilities. They made one in the end.
I know had things been different, every anxiety attack, every issue, and every failure, would include a voice of encouragement, a push, or maybe a small gesture from me to make life a little easier to cope. Sometimes it would be met with a thank you and other times anger, but it still would have happened knowing that person for 31 years.
But, that’s not the case. God had other plans for me. It was to take care of me first, and then act as a caregiver for my parents.
In four years, I’ve never wish hardships on my ex-husband. I’ve always wished him well, especially health wise. It takes a shitty person to wish one ill, handicapped or dead. I’ve heard people saying that before about people they dislike or have hurt them, and I’ve encouraged them to never speak of others that way.
I pray for my kids, especially my son, his fiance and son. It can’t be easy at all, and I hope their relationship gets stronger rather than weakens over it all. That said, I’m on my own journey now. As hard as it is, I’m doing it.
If I can leave you with one piece of advice it would be to embrace the gifts that God gives you. Sometimes, God knows where you’re meant to be.