It is easy to care for someone when they are young, have their health, have their physique, and are mentally sharp. Young love is not only impetuous; it is more blind infatuation than it is love. Young love is often forgiving in the short term and while all goes well, but must have depth and maturity for sustenance. Regrettably, many young couples discover the shallowness of their relationship cannot survive the trials of life. These trials help strengthen the relationship.
God designed marriage to withstand the hardships in life. He gave us help meets as spouses to meet our common goals and to overcome the trials of life. Each spouse is the other’s caregiver. Their caring for each other is a give-and-take relationship, with one spouse providing strength when the other has weaker times. We all hope the needs and strengths of each spouse are equal. Regrettably, life is not always fair and hardships do occur, and sometimes one spouse is stricken more than the other. The quality of give-and-take becomes out of balance and one must provide more care for the other. The strength of the relationship is suddenly tested. The healthier partner becomes a caregiver.
Caregivers present themselves in many forms other than a spouse. A mother, father, sister, brother, grandchild, grandparent, friend, etc. may find themselves caring for the illness of another. A loved one is stricken with a physical illness, with injuries from an accident, dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, or one of many other debilitating disorders, and someone who cares comes to the rescue. That rescuer sacrifices a portion of their life to care for the ailing one. Someone must care for these injured souls, but these caregivers do so by choice. They give them a portion of their life to serve the needs another.
Caregivers often perform tasks that others would not, and do so in obscurity. They may change soiled underwear and in some cases on adults. In many cases they must dress and undress an ailing loved one every day, day after day. Some caregivers must feed and bathe the loved one daily. They lift them when they fall, administer medication, often several times a day, transport them by whatever means necessary, listen while they sleep and numerous other chores each day brings. Some must do all these things when the loved one no longer recognizes them. Whether the patient is suffering mentally, physically, or both, they don’t appear as the same person the caregiver once loved. Regardless, the caregiver must provide care, often with little in return.
A steward of a person in need, as the name implies, gives because they care. Their love has much greater depth, because it has matured over time. They have and are traveling life’s pathway together. They have and will experience good and bad but they do it together. They have drawn strength from each other and now one partner must provide greater strength.
Caregivers need to know, in their heart, the person they care for is the same one they have always known and loved. It is okay to experience frustration and anger at times. Your loved one understands, but also experiences the same at times. The ailing one’s heart aches watching the one they love attend to even their most basic needs. Please note your loved one often hurts when you hurt and will become frustrated. Those who care for people with dementia should know their love for you is imprisoned in a mind they can’t control. Please know their love for you is in a spirit that does exist.
In those receiving care, your contribution and strength in the relationship lies in your attitude. Positive outlook and a sense of humor serve you in your caregiver well. Keeping a moderate sense of independence helps you and your relationship. Accept your life has changed. It is okay to mourn or feel sorry for yourself every once in a while, but don’t stay there. Find joy where you are.
Young people, filter your relationship through these examples. Could not possibly understand the type of love described above, but can you see the person in the relationship caring this much for you. Are they a caregiver or more takers?
a Diana resident and former New Diana ISD superintendent, is an occasional contributor to the Longview Journal Saturday Forum. These articles are his submissions.