Guilt. It's nothing but a tool to destroy you. Caregivers....we are all doing the best we can. Don't let the guilts rob you of your joy.
This "being alone" thing has been quite a transition. You might say we both have changed. We've had 42 years of the most rewarding life together as married best friends. Our anniversary is in a couple of weeks. From having Jerry at home for 11 years as an Alzheimer caregiver to being a "distant" caregiver the last three years while he is in his new home...a lot has happened.
So many people lose their love ones suddenly. Shocked! Here, alive and well today. Gone in a second. No time to say goodbye. No time to get those regrets settled. The "Im sorry" does not have time to be said. The Alzheimer journey is different, however. We lose our loved ones "one day at a time." In many ways, I am thankful for that. Jerry and I got to make every minute count! We had the opportunity to appreciate what was really important. We got to say, "I'm sorry."
Today, while at the gym, however, the "guilt monster" crept into my head and began to roam around. I was doing those awful Pilates ab thingies....you know those corkscrews where you hold your legs out and circle them around. ..then do again in reverse! For some reason my grunts took me back to when Jerry and I got on this big health kick about 20 years ago. SERIOUSLY! 20 years! (I suppose I was always athletic...but never had the commitment to do anything with it. LAZY!) Jerry was all gung ho. Me, on the other hand, stuck it out for a couple of months...then considered it a waste of money. After all, he made the money but I managed it. $100 per month was a lot when you have three mouths to feed and you're NOT using the gym anymore. Besides, he travelled all the time. (was in airplanes all the time. wonder if all that cabin pressure brought on early dementia? Hmm. we'll save that for another blog post.)
Moving right along. I killed Jerry's joy. What an encourager I was. NOT! Today, I envisioned his skinny self, sweaty, chest all puffed out walking across the gym floor with a big grin across his face. He thought he was a total stud. (He was!) When that vision popped into my head, I forgot all about those painful leg lifts I was doing and started feeling terribly guilty. Look where we are now. I'M AT THE GYM doing what he wanted to do. HE IS IN A HOME. Oh, the guilt.
Another time, Jerry actually acquired a boat. This was about the same time as the gym membership. We had so much family fun on that boat. There were truly some hysterical moments when he tossed me the keys to the boat while I was in the water. Really? Naturally, the keys went down to the bottom of the lake. Needless to say, we got those floatie things after that. (not for me...for the keys). That boat, after a while, became a money pit! It was his total project and his checkbook stayed open! Well, you know me and the money. THAT BOAT HAD TO GO! : ( There....I did it again. Killed his joy! There's that guilt again!
So, why am I confessing all this to you? These little things are not exactly monumental. But GUILT is. It will eat at you until there is nothing left of you. I suppose I'm telling you this so you won't make the same mistakes. Reconcile while you can. Say I'm sorry. Better yet....be thoughtful enough NOT to rob your loved one of their joy. Love selflessly. Practice patience. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as you love your self. Isn't there something in the Bible about that? Think of your life without them (just for a brief second.) Live a life of no regrets. I'm headed over to say I'm sorry right now. Hope he still hears me.