Five Minute Friday: STEADY

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: STEADY.

Five Minute Friday

When I picked up a prescription for my husband yesterday, the staff person said hello to me as if he knew me. I scrambled to see his nametag (I am Faceblind, so these types of interactions are complicated). Turns out it was Justin, who usually works at the Publix where my father-in-law has his prescriptions. He happened to be doing a shift at “our” Publix.

“Yeah —- your brother comes in sometimes to pick up prescriptions right?”

Brother?

I corrected him: HUSBAND.

But this question, like the “are you retiring?” questions I received when I left my job in 2014, carried so much more weight than the questioner intended.

We celebrate our 25th anniversary in August. Are there times when this marriage hasn’t been “fiery,” volatile and spark-y? Yes.

But brother?

The thing is, I have grieved the opportunities for a “spark” thing over the years, in very deep ways.

BUT over the last six months, I have watched my husband be the steady hand/arm my father-in-law needs as he becomes increasingly Unsteady. It has not been pretty and as I have written about elsewhere, lots of bodily fluids have been involved. Lots of difficult behavior wrangling too. But there’s nothing more attractive than a man taking care of a loved one.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: WORTH

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: WORTH.

Five Minute Friday

Worth is a concept that presents a challenge to me. It’s easier to ascribe worth to someone else than it is to myself.

Especially over the last three years, after I quit my “real” job and began the patchwork of caregiving + part-time work + life, I have increasingly found myself asking “how do they do it?” when I see friends/acquaintances juggling a “9-5,” family, and community obligations.

I have had several conversations recently with friends about what “counts.” I will admit I am a bit driven by external recognition — certificates, being mentioned on social media, winning awards (I used to aspire to be an FSU “Grads Made Good” but that ship has probably already sailed as far as it being a possibility – unless I write an amazing book – you never know!!). But there are smaller, subtler things that have worth too. A couple of times recently, people have made it a point to mention how they used a green pen I gave them and it made them smile. A simple green pen!

But I don’t give green pens to just anyone. Choosing to give one means something worthy, maybe just to that person and me, but there is optimism in the exchange. Maybe I need to remember to give myself that same optimism, every day.

The caregiving life is full of times you wonder if your choices matter, if anyone notices, especially the recipient of the caregiving. [STOP]

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: EXPECT

This is my first week to join “Five Minute Friday.” This is the deal, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: EXPECT.

Five Minute Friday

I read this “expect” prompt last night, and several different thoughts on it ran through my mind as I drifted off to sleep. First and foremost, I think, are my expectations around this close-to-the end phase of caregiving. As yesterday would attest, I can’t expect to string together a full sentence (written or spoken) without being interrupted. My father-in-law, who sleeps for hours-long stretches now as his cancer continues its assault on him, has his most restless times at exactly the moments I need to concentrate. I gave up yesterday and called the home health agency to hire someone to come attend to him after Wayne has to leave for work, so I can finish the part of my day that is deadline-driven. It’s unfair to Dad for me to be frustrated and stressed about dealing with his bathroom needs (which take FOREVER and result in massive cleanups afterwards) as well as his pain management.

Also on the topic of expectations, he is meeting exactly what the book we were given by the hospice workers predicted about this stage: confusion, talking about loved ones who have passed, etc. Yesterday, he asked for my mother in law, who has been dead almost four years. “She’s not here,” I said. “Is she still alive?” he asked. I responded she was not. “We’re dropping like flies,” he said. It was a rare and crystal-clear accurate moment of lucidity from a man who tried to smoke a slim jim the other day, thinking it was a cigar.

This is all new to us. We don’t know what to expect. It is frightening and there is the sense that we only have this one time to help him navigate his death experience – it isn’t about “not messing it up” but about focusing on it with grace. 

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.