A Statuesque Woman
My mother-in-law is dying. My husband and I said our goodbyes two days ago and now restlessly await a phone call that will tell us it is over. At eighty nine, this once 5’11′” statuesque woman is giving up the fight. She has suffered long enough; in and out of the hospital and rehab so many times in the last year, only her husband, her caregiver knows the number exactly.
My father-in-law has cared for Mom every step along the way the last ten years, her steady decline less obvious to him than the rest of us. Now, he carries the scars of the caregiver who cared too much. Also eighty-nine and alert as ever, he is full of vim and vigor on the inside, but his body tells the tale of the war he has been waging. His slight 5’6″ frame carries almost no fat. His loose thin skin where muscle once held sway is bruised and bandaged, the scars of the heavy lifting he has been doing.
It is a love story…a call to the timeless commitment of a sixty year marriage…something too few in subsequent generations will experience. They have been through war together, both on the battlefield in WWII, he an enlisted man, she a nurse, and a war of a psychological kind that only abuse can wage. As husband and wife they shared in the birth and raising of five children, numerous grandchildren, and a one great-grandchild. They have known poverty and wealth in equal measure, joy and sorrow, good times and bad. They have shared a love of family, friends and good times; music, home and boating; nature, birds and old re-runs. My heart breaks for him as he sits and reads poetry at her bedside , soft music playing in the background, even as I know firsthand the damage he has done.
His work is over. The endless hours of energy spent keeping his beautiful bride going..moving, eating, dressed, comfortable..now ending. The day has arrived where sleep is her only activity. Lying in a hospital bed right next to the bed they shared for sixty years she no longer eats. There is nothing left for him to do except wait, as we do here three hours away. We will all be together soon to honor her passing.
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