“Woman’s virtue is man’s greatest invention.” Germaine Greer


Four years ago – when Jack began falling, when I first noticed the tremor in his left hand, when his vision began to deteriorate faster than the VA could order him new glasses, and his personality began to travel paths I’d never seen him trod – that long four years ago when I began to realize our golden years were going to be a bit different than we’d planned, I comforted myself with the belief that this adventure too, while not of our choosing, would lead Jack and I to new heights.

I thought I’d become a better person in caring for him.

In truth, each day I become less wise and patient and kind, and more exhausted and bitter and angry. The fairy tale of two old people, hand-in-hand, shuffling through the obstacles and trials of a bad diagnoses, is just that – a fantasy – a lie perpetuated, I have to believe, by people who benefit by convincing what is, let’s face it, mostly women to give up their last healthy years to care for an ailing husband.

We caregivers, and these days I am far more caregiver than wife, are never supposed to admit this bitterness, of course.  And we rarely do. Even to each other. We tamp down our anger when our husbands blame us for, well, for every frustration in a life that is filled with limitations, disappointments, and cold, nasty truths. We paste a smile on our faces and force a cheery tone and respond to each request for water (not too much ice and don’t forget the bendy straw), and food(I don’t like pasta, can’t eat salad, chicken tastes like chemicals), and help with dressing (I want to wear the zip up pants and the button shirt), and bathing (where’s my prescription shampoo? Did you forget to order it?), and eating (The spoon’s too big, can you find me a half-teaspoon?), and that one last call to a doctor who is sick to death of hearing from us – caregivers do all this when we just want to lie our heads down and die.

So, I am not going to come out of this last adventure with Jack as a saint. Oh, hell, no. But the great lesson of my life can be applied here and it does bring comfort. The truth really does set us free. So, I will not pretend to be a kind and gentle caregiver in these posts. Though, I try to be just that each and every day. Here on these pages, I will not feign patience when what I’m really doing is repressing anger so white hot that it’s, I fear literally, eating through my backbone. I will not tell you that I have grown as a person or have learned not to take Jack’s words personally, but to understand with empathy that it is the disease talking and not him.

But I will tell you that I strive toward all of those goals.

And, that’s the best I can do.

About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
This entry was posted in aging, caregiver, grief, health, marriage, Pamela Foster, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Bitter

  1. I again feel your pain. My own pain stays hidden deep inside for no one believes abused wives. My heart has forgiven so I could receive peace.

  2. Beverly says:

    Oh Pam, You are a real trooper, and I have often /marveled at your resilience and strength. May the posting and writing of your feelings release you and allow you to enjoy as much as you can of Jack, who isn’t being Jack these days. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Staci Troilo says:

    Still sending love and hugs and prayers.

  4. What I’ve always been drawn to in your writing is your candor. Sometimes it’s raw, like in this post, but it’s liberating to read truth. I’m saving this particular post because when it’s my turn to walk a similar path and I’m not the person I feel I am supposed to be, it will remind me I am humanly normal. Meanwhile I have added your name to my pray-for list.

  5. Julie James says:

    Your honesty overwhelms me…in a good way.

  6. Jenny Lovewell says:

    I’m with you, Pam. The truth ride is on a horse with a lousy saddle and a too tight cinch. Hang on, sister.

  7. therealthundermonkey says:

    You’re really are Adeline, aren’t you?

  8. Brenda Black says:

    Threads of truth and fear for any of us “of a certain age,” especially those who have already been on the caretaker path with parents, siblings, and/or friends. Takes a lot of courage and that, dear friend, you have in spades. Be gentle with yourself. And rage on! Some of the feelings dissipate with the words. Well said.

  9. Mona Krause says:

    Wow sure that was a hard fact to write. Remember the days when things were hard to handle and Jack wasn’t this sick. Your the strongest person I know and love.

  10. newlifeduringmidlife says:

    I love the honesty I am full time caregiver also. Spouse is 55 and I’m 50. Retirement sucks. I do everything alone when i can go out a little while.

  11. Maryanne VanDyke says:

    No choice but to accept, bless you.

  12. Viviana says:

    Ah Pam… so eloquent, so powerful. I am not currently a caregiver in the sense you are describing, but I so relate to your inner conflict – it seems to be an aspect of being a woman …

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s