I'm behaving myself. Promise.
It's no piece of cake caring for a one armed gal who wants you to be her right arm. But that's what I've needed this past month. The surgeon reattached two detached rotator cuff tendons and shaved off bone spurs. Surgery was a breeze - slept through it. First week after was a little tougher. Nowadays I just deal with the inconveniences, like typing with one hand, one finger actually. And Physical Therapy.
I wasn't in the caregiver's seat during this ordeal. A lot of we widows remember that. How different the view is from the caregivee's seat. Which is worse? IMHO, it's a lot easier to be the caregivee, even if it's a tad painful and disorienting. Caregiving, good caregiving, is exhausting. Given that this was only shoulder surgery, survival was never in question. So it was exhausting without the grief. Right, guys? God bless you for making my surgery and recuperation possible. I've no idea what your opinion of the whole ordeal is. Maybe you'll hit the comment section in this post. :-)
Four people stayed with me this past month: my boyfriend, my brother, my sister, and her husband. Incredible, wonderful people with ideas of their own of what I needed. Imagine that.
See my recent post: http://postwidowhood.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-fine-line-being-loved-being-catered-to.html
Eight years into widowhood, I'm confident my ideas are good, great even. However, their ideas were just as good. Great even. Sure enough, I have this itty bitty trait of only seeing things one way - mine. I am so much better off for their ideas and help.
One beautiful development came out of this past month: a 'new' breakfast room. For years, my view into my neighbor's dumpy yard has been so ugly that I've kept my shades drawn on this side of my kitchen. Too bad, because I have a wall of windows there. But then in May, this very neighbor questioned the location of a fence I wanted to build, to at least block out some of his debris. The best way to settle this 'confusion' was with a property survey, and I hired a Surveyor. Well, Christmas came in June, this year. Not only did I learn that my property line was yonder, well past his old cars and bright orange pylons and trash, I learned that I could build a privacy fence and keep my lovely lattice where it is. Oh, Joy!
Thanks to my caregivers I secured City Hall's approval to install a 190 foot privacy fence. This of course spelled the end for that fellow's old cars and debris, on my land at least. And inside, we finally raised the shades on that wall of windows once my caregivers removed excess furniture and kitchenware.
My view now? My shade garden of Hostas and Boxwoods frame a lovely stone scape, a la Japanese garden, set off against pretty lattice fencing.
Life is better, and even though everyone's gone now, I can manage well enough with a ride here and there from friends and subsidized transit. This house feels better. I and it are better, or good enough. I need my 'alone' time. I noticed a growing desperation for time of reflection, not socializing. During this time, when loving family and friend were here, it slowly dawned on me that I am really well suited for solo life. True, I'm vulnerable physically. My ideas aren't always the best. Yet I revel in my freedom, peace and artistry, of being able to close the door for privacy. I relish 'what is', that is, a life of me living by myself, in this house. I don't pine for 'what was' and 'what I still need if I'm to be happy'.
During this past month a dream of mine evaporated - the one about living with a beloved and walking into my sunset years with him. I feel sad for its passing. But like passing seasons, one moment yields to another.
Once upon a time I hated that I was so bloody young, age 52, when I became a widow. I was not willing to call coupledom quits. But eight years have passed. I've dated, fallen in love, and been in a long distance relationship now for 10 months. Now I'm realizing coupledom isn't all it's cracked up to be, for me at age 60. I know I actually now like, No, NEED to be on my own. I told my boyfriend about this, early on. He stayed anyway. Amazing man.
I had no idea I'd changed so much until this surgery changed my lifestyle. Maybe my introversion is coming out big time. Maybe my sobering realization that no two people see eye to eye, even when they love each other. It takes years of work to keep a relationship vibrant and happy and I don't want to put this effort in. Maybe I'm frustrated by my dependence on this bloody sling. In any case I'm not 52 any more. My habits and routine are carved deeply into my psyche. I haven't the patience and the will to climb that mountain of compromise I once clambered up and down with a partner. I guess with older age comes stiffness.
To my caregivers
Your help and patience and time was your sacrificial gift to me. I will return this favor for you. It's good to help someone we love. It's good to step into somebody else's life, and stay, or go, as the Spirit wills.