I am going to brag about my husband.
My husband plays many roles, like all husbands do. He’s a dad, a son, an uncle, a friend, an employee, a boss, and I think you get the point. Except above all of these things, in my world, he is a caregiver. My caregiver. And I am pretty sure he didn’t sign up for that, at least not as early as either of us expected him to have to be. I am afforded so many luxuries because of his caregiving that I forget, forget to notice and maybe even take for granted all that he does.
I’ve thought about writing this article many times. And like how most of life goes, I keep it on my mind with the promise that I will sit and write it when I have “time” to be thoughtful and careful and genuine. Well, this Friday is our 16th wedding anniversary, the last day of our daughter’s 2nd grade year, Sunday is Father’s Day, and we are in the process of a big move. We both work full-time, have two children’s schedules to juggle, boxes to shuffle around, two houses to prep and clean, movers and deliveries to coordinate, new fish to feed and a pool to take care of. Daily chores, cooking, self-care…so “time” is a mirage that I will never really get to sit and be the thoughtful, careful and positively genuine writer I want to be to craft the words that hang in my mind. Sometimes real life and living in a moment is not as eloquent as we imagine it to be. The bottom line is, “time” isn’t going to make this article more perfect later than it can be right now. And so here goes my heart…
In honor of our anniversary, Father’s Day, and this wonderfully chaotic life we live together I am going to brag about my other half, the better half, my caregiver. I hope I can share the sentiment of many others of us that depend on people like my husband to thrive in this life. It is humbling, and sometimes I feel undeserving, but he shows up anyway and keeps on going. I am unsure that I can ever give back more than I am given. Just know that if life were happening in reverse, I would do it all for you.
Caregivers take on many, many things that are taken for granted until they are gone. I would call them responsibilities instead of things, but they aren’t really responsibilities until someone else takes them on for you.
Russ is my transporter of things. I make piles and he shuffles the piles around the house. Laundry, paperwork, groceries, messes that need cleaning up, the kid’s toys. I do my best to organize a pile in one room that needs to be taken to another. He carries my plate to the table and back to the kitchen so my hands are free to guide my body around furniture and hold onto walls. He gets what I need when I ask for it and carries it wherever it needs to go. Especially my glass of wine. I sometimes feel like a road crew boss or the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz with my arms pointing in all directions, barking orders with what needs to go where so I can meet up with everything at its end destination and put it away. Or shuffle it around some more.
Russ is my personal chauffeur. He drives the family around most of the time. I make short trips around town, and that is all. Switch drivers halfway? Nope. Split the drive? Nope. Give Russ a break and let him zone out on Instagram while I take the wheel? Nope. Until we get my car adapted, this limitation rests on him.
Russ is my equipment manager. He makes endless equipment changes in and out of my car. Always makes sure my handicap pass and cane are with us. We have to talk daily about my needs – do I need my scooter or walker in my car, is the battery charged, is my scooter readily available to get the kids off the school bus, is my walker ready in my car for trips to the store, kids activities or doctor appointments. And if I don’t have what I need or our schedule unexpectedly changes, he drops everything to leave work or make a special trip to ensure I have what I need.
Russ is my personal shopper. He runs errands, returns stuff to Target, to the mall, wherever. He willingly goes to Target. Or at least pretends to. He makes special trips to pick up stuff we need, an ingredient I forgot or for the kids schools like when I volunteer to bring snacks. Even when I volunteer and forget to mention it. Thank goodness for Amazon and Instacart. I would have to put him on my payroll otherwise.
Russ is my personal assistant. He is on-demand help. Up and down the stairs countless times to retrieve things I forget. Can you grab this, can you grab that. I’m not careless in my requests, at least I try not to be. He pushes me in my wheelchair, carries my purse, lifts my scooter in and out of my car, even carries me when it’s just easier to do so.
Russ is my biggest support(er). He always has an arm out to help guide me, steady me or help me move forward. Both figuratively and literally. He looks past my stubbornness most of the time and allows me to be the thick-headed, independent woman I enjoy being.
Russ does all of this effortlessly. And he still manages to be thoughtful when I ask for help a million and one times a day. When I take a moment to think about all he does, with or without me asking, I am in awe. He absorbs the frustration. Most of the time. It is hard because while I am living the chronic illness, we both have to live with it. We both made the decision a few years ago to change our feelings from “we can’t” to “how can we”. This made a huge difference in how capable we both felt we were and how we would handle all the hard stuff that may come in the future. And the some of the imagined hard stuff has arrived. It doesn’t make it easier, but it makes the challenges more tolerable.
I wish I had a wedding photo that I could digitally upload. Funny to say out loud that we were married before digital cameras and smartphones. Our wedding photos are on film strips. Although we began our lives together four years before our wedding even, it is on that day that we made a promise to have and to hold, in sickness and in health. To have and to hold (me up). As two invincible 20-somethings, the vows seem secondary to the fairytale you are living in that moment. The vows are reserved for reminders when life gets dark at times. Be kind, live in compassion and laugh. Laugh a lot. The laughter in our marriage far surpasses the cries even when the cries seem hard to shake. He helps me live my dream. And makes our dreams a reality for our family.
Happy anniversary, happy father’s day and thank you. I love you more than I can ever articulate, and am forever grateful (and lucky) to have you by my side. Strolling or rolling, we’ve got this together.