“Lift your leg, Honey”…the Difficult Truth
It was an early morning and I was waiting for my husband to have his therapy since having surgery for a knee replacement. A car pulled up next to me and a gentleman moved from the driver’s side to that of the passenger.
“Lift your leg, Honey” I heard him say.
She tried to respond, but it was obvious that she was having a great difficulty getting anything to move.
Finally, he was able to pull her out of the car, but did so as gently as he could. As they proceeded into the medical building, he talked quietly to her as she shuffled her way inside.
With my laptop computer in front of me, I continued writing Chapter 20 of my new historical fiction book. Looking up from where I was parked, the door in front of me was opening. It was easy to see the same couple come out the door to return to the car. It took him a few minutes to get her seated once again.
Something inside me responded, as it usually does, when I am supposed to reach out to someone, even if they are complete strangers. I have learned over the years that this little something that I feel inside…almost a nervous feeling, is …I believe…the Holy Spirit of God. “You are the voice of compassion that I want to use today…so say something.” I know that either I respond to this urging, or the moment will pass me by. That has happened in the past and I’ve always regretted it.
Rolling the window down on my passenger side, I said loudly, so he could hear me, “Sir!” He stopped and looked in the window at me.
“You are a good husband.” I said.
He smiled and said, “I have been doing this for 8 years.”
“What disability does she have?” I asked.
“Dementia” he replied.
(The word “dementia” means “a chronic or persistent disorder of the brain that makes for memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.”) This was of course is why she was having trouble moving. Her mind had forgotten how to do things that are automatic and normal to most of us.
The gentleman had such a pleasant look on his face…a tired look, but a calm look.
He said, ” I do this because I love her.” He had faced a difficult truth about his love..his companion for life. Things would not get better and he knew it.
He went on to say that she would do the same for him and they had been married over 50 years.
“But if the roles were reversed, she would have a very hard time because she (or you) would not be able to lift a man’s weight. I have to lift her a great deal.”
He went on to say, “I take her out to eat and to our church on Sunday. People say to me that I should put her in a nursing home, but I don’t want to do this because I know they cannot take care of her… like feed her…as I would.”
I told him that my prayers would be with him and they will be. This man has a woman he loves and a very hard decision to make as her health deteriorates.
I have one thing to say as I end this blog.
If you are young, you may think that nothing like this will happen at the end of your life. You work out; eat right and have lots of friends…maybe even family members who love you. You may even be saying, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
What one does not realize is that when youth is gone and muscles and bones begin to deteriorate, as well as the processes of the mind, we can only depend on those closest to us.
My advice would be this.
Don’t take family…mother…father…sister or brother for granted. Most of the time they will be the only ones to make the calls to the assisted living or rehab center to make sure that you are ending your life with caring people..and not being abused just because you are now old and cannot fend for yourself. You must have an advocate in your behalf. If you ignore those who love you now…or only see them once in a while, it may be that you will not have them to depend upon when you most need someone to care.
The gentleman of whom I have been writing smiled and thanked me for my words. He opened his car door to drive home and start the same pattern all over again.
“Lift your leg, Sweetheart. We’re home.”