When I worked in home health care to help in emergencies, I was told that the husband would relay my care taking job duties when I arrived at their home.
I knocked… but the door was ajar…he told me to come in. He would not leave her alone. When I walked in, the kitchen wasn’t in the best of condition; crumbs on the counter, frying pans that needed elbow grease. That is where he spent most of his time. She needed to be fed soft foods because of her condition. He tried to make interesting recipes.
She really didn’t know what they were but she ate them without complaint. She would smile as he picked up the fork and spoon, alternating between one dish and feeding her steadily. She didn’t know how to do that anymore. I just sat and watched.
“Sorry that the kitchen is such a mess, would you mind cleaning it after we are done. Then you can iron…I just don’t do well with the iron at all, he commented.
By his tone of voice, he wanted household responsibilities to take precedence such as cleaning and laundering. Not feeding his wife of 50 years; the latter was his job and his job only with never ending love and patience.
“She loved to cook and the holidays were always here at the house. She would invite neighbors, friends that didn’t have a place at a festive, dining room table with the best of food. I was out working in one job after another”. I really didn’t pay attention to what went on in the kitchen” I came and just ate,” he said, a sad tone escalating, “Why didn’t I tell her then…. I don’t know.”
“She knows, I am sure of it,” I responded assuredly. Because of what you are doing right now.”
“It is the least I can do,” he said, “Isn’t she beautiful?”
“Quite, I said. Though her beauty had been ravaged by Alzheimer’s and other physical issues, to the unknowing eye anyway. Never to his.
She turned to meet his gaze. In a whisper, she said, “Thank you,”.
Unsure whether she was thanking him for his compliments or just a reciprocation for his efforts, it was a thank you with emotional meaning and trust.
He told me more about their life together, the minute he met her…. knowing that it was just natural for him to feel comfortable, the sense of humor they both shared, the instinctive level of intelligence they had assumed.
“No problems?” I asked though I knew that only fairy tales were without those.
“Of course,” he said but I learned that women think differently than men. It was probably better for me to just nod and accept. I have two daughters.I will never quite understand them either. I guess that is okay….it worked for us.”
“And women should just stop trying to figure you guys out as well,” I laughed. He agreed.
Filling the spoon more slowly and gently nudging her to eat one more bite, he smiled at her, as their eyes briefly met.
“I guess with her beside me all these years, that is all I have ever really needed. You know you are with the right one when you lay your head on the pillow, place your arm around her and close your eyes to sleep.
You just know!