Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sven's Role = Moral Support

As husbands go, Sven is rather patient. Nine years ago, when I suggested our move to what was for him a foreign country and the care of my elderly parents, he embraced the idea not with enthusiasm, but rather like Robinson Crusoe, determined to make the best of the situation.

Bea took an immediate liking to my new husband. Once he had devoured the in-depth articles in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, she started sharing opinions, delighted to have an in-house intellectual with whom to converse, not to mention a handsome escort for seminars at the Wellfleet Public Library. Sven enjoyed my mother although she dominated the dinner conversations to such an extent that I had to remind him not to neglect little old me.

Bea is mostly silent these days. In fact, this week, she shut up Nurse Jane by asking, “Do you always talk so much?”

I could have pointed out former volubility, but didn’t.

The hospice folks tend to be our only contact with the outside world. Neighbors know Bea is in the homestretch and imagine she needs a quiet environment.

Yesterday I discussed the phenomenon with Jane who told me it is the norm for most caregivers. We tend to become homebodies in order to keep a close watch on loved ones. Social life is curtailed. We hesitate to go out. The result is isolation.

These days Bea’s slumber is profound. Sven goes into her bedroom to say hello every once and a while, but he, too, shies away. There is something about Bea’s circumstance that discourages contact. Perhaps people are reminded of their own mortality, as if death, like a tornado, might suck up everything in its passage …


Blogger Karyn said...

Too true.

People often could benefit by taking a deep breath and greeting death and the dying process head-on; it only FEELS like it will consume everything in its path.

It's unavoidable and it happens to all of us - why pretend it won't? It won't do to dwell on it in life, but avoiding all thought and discussion and practical relationship to it can be equally detrimental...

I hope you are able to take time for yourself, however scant, during these days... it is too easy for those in your singularly difficult role to become depleted.

4:49 AM  

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