Six years ago today, my husband was found dead in his room at the nursing home where he’d spent the past month. I’d been caring for him at home for six years after two strokes paralyzed his left side. He’d started going downhill, finally getting to the point where I could no longer lift him.
I’d hoped to get him into Greenhouse,, a facility where residents live in cottages holding no more than twelve occupants and each have their own room and bath,. However, there was a six-month waiting list for people on Medicaid, so he and I decided that he should move to a regular nursing home for the time being. He must have decided he couldn’t wait for greener pastures.
The following poem, from My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, talks about how I learned of his death and my reactions. You can click this link to hear me read it.
THE MORNING MY HUSBAND PASSED
The nurse’s call wakes me at six thirty.
Relieved but unable to drive,
I call my father—he agrees to take me.
I think to myself,
this is it—I’m a widow.
I knew it would come, but why so soon?
He just turned seventy.
We were married only seven years.
I took care of him for six.
He wanted to make it ten.
Driving through the streets,
I see, hear, feel nothing.
When we arrive, I hurry to his room,
to his bedside where he lies,
swathed from head to toe.
I uncover his face,
eyes, mouth closed,
his body at peace.
I kiss his brow,
bury my face in his hair,
hold him, tell him I love him,
pack his belongings, leave,
my life having turned a corner.
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Click to hear an audio trailer.
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