Friday, October 15, 2010


Being the caretaker is in some ways harder than being the patient. The focus is rightly on the patient. Your job is to do and take care of, while the patient’s job is to rest and get better. When the patient is your husband of almost thirty years who has consistently said, “the ‘please’ is silent,” partially in jest, your forbearance sometimes wears thin.
Anyone who knows me well knows that patience is not my strong suit. I have learned through training and reflection to exercise patience, because in most instances it works better than impatience. I know, my pragmatism is showing.
Patience doesn’t come naturally to me, although a driven sense of self-discipline does. When the pop psychologists itemized the characteristics of Type A personalities, I felt like someone was reciting my psych profile out loud.
Luckily for my husband, while my patience quotient is low, my duty index is off the charts. I’m the daughter of a father whose epitaph says “Duty and Sacrifice Beyond Reproach.” I emulate those sentiments without even trying. They are as much a part of my DNA as the color of my skin. They are my cultural legacy as a filial Chinese firstborn.
Hospice, a movement younger than I am, has come to appreciate the importance of respite for caretakers. Likewise, church guilds also institutionalize home delivered meals and housecleaning services for families with recently hospitalized members. Nobody sends the caretakers flowers, but maybe they should. I think I will from now on.


Oaktree said...

It is the caretaker who suffers the most when the care taking is no longer needed. I think your flowers idea is exactly right--visual reward/reminder of each days psychic and physical work rendered--I hope you will make sure you do this for yourself. Flowers each day in your home to remind you and the care-take-ee.

C said...


Deborah Sampson said...

When my sisters-in-law were heading home after Robert's surgery, they sent me a necklace from the hospital gift shop with the message "It isn't all about him." Every time I see that necklace, I am reminded that I do not serve my husband well when I neglect myself.
Where do I send your flowers?



Please send my virtual flowers to my email address at, and I will use them as my desktop wallpaper. Thanks, dear friend, for the lovely thought. Herb and I are soldiering on, day by day. Today was one of those days where you take a step backwards, but this, too, will pass. Just a bump in the road when healing from complex health dilemmas. I hope your fella is doing good, too.