Caregiving challenges

His face a maze of rivulets and ravines, crutches help bear the weight he carries,
his feet heavy, movements ponderous. Yes, age has wormed its way into his bones
but more, he carries the years upon years of caring for a willful, capricious wife –
most times removed, caught up in her own world, with people and presences
no one else can share or know, leaving him alone with the battle of care.

Caregivers have a heavy burden even with the easiest people those with minds still clear, bodies more or less functional. Whose age or disease make the need for care, daily or occasionally, a burden, willing or not.

But for others, caregiving  carries a much different burden. When they must manage a violent or mentally challenged person, a person with bipolar or schizophrenic
episodes, one whose body has worn out, needing total care, it can make the caregiver
sicker than the person cared for.

That old man has cared for his wife since she had nervous breakdowns forty years prior, sitting by her bed every minute, ignoring all else, including his only son, alone, left to fend for himself, do the shopping, laundry, cleaning.

He has abided her demands, given into whims, defended her right to choose not to medicate. In so doing, she has chosen a tangled trail leaving her family to carry a hard burden of care allowing the right of self-choice to medicate and feel largely better or be “in control” of herself as she berates, hits, babbles, ignores him or
or talks gibberish. BUT always remains the center of attention.

The burden of caregivers is their lives aren’t their own, at the least for sizable chunks of time.  From bill paying and shopping, to bathing, feeding and all facets of self care,
they spend from Sunday visits to constant care for family or hired professionals.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, all bets are off. You are not often recognized for yourself. Hitting, endless paranoid pacing, constant distraction, inability to  voice thoughts coherently . . .it is exhausting. But it is also a means to give back, to make amends, to relish the moments you have because they may not be long.

That old man now must also contend with a son who believes his mother has every right to choose not to medicate, even though all who are part of her life are negatively affected by that choice. The son refuses to listen to his own children who have enough detachment to see the situation more clearly.

When the Father is overwhelmed, the son brings her, 600 miles away, to his home
where she sits alone, hour after hour, or wanders off with the dog, lost, unaware of where she is or why others are yelling at her to get off the street. It’s not care, not a solution, it’s an ill-chosen stop-gap measure that could hurt or kill her.

We need to be aware of the long-term effects of the decisions we make for our loved ones or those under our care. Sometimes the right solution is personal care by the family, sometimes it’s professional care within the home, but assisted living or skilled nursing homes may be the best options too.  Money is, of course, a vital component in decision-making, as is insurance coverage, and what the impact will mentally have for the person being cared for.

The Question

So love is where its at Baby,
and my, my how we all run
from body to body
in desperate yearning
for that one person
beyond all others
that can reach deeply
into the soul’s dark corners
and pull forth
that gift carefully hidden.

Frantically we search
for the special someone
to fill our empty places,
making a shell become whole
because so little belief
is set in our own capacity
to make ourselves complete.

Love, baby, love –
the solitary key
passed from one hand to another’s
thoughtlessly dropped
by hungry feet
that in riotous panic
throng toward gathering places –

To get lost in the crowd
but fearfully hoping
for one night of love
before the illusion is shattered
and we stand naked
before empty souls
who had too little to give
and no time to give it –
desperate and despairing –
because love wasn’t the answer anymore
but just another question.

 

Pretender

For just one night hold me –
you can pretend someone else
is cuddled within your arms
soothed by your touch
but don’t tell me
these bittersweet moments
are an illusion.

For a brief few moments
wrap your arms about me closely,
let my head nestle
into your shoulder,
soft and warm . . .
and let me imagine
for just a little while
someone loves me,
and let vague illusions
I could love too
pass through my mind.

 

Coming Together

You run – I run –
coming together to spread
tiny slivers of bitter icicles
into raw nerve endings
to numb feelings and still
the tremulous beating of hearts
far too vulnerable.

Then quickly, lest either one
see a glimmer of emotion
lurking beneath eyes cover . . .
we vanish with the coming
of dawn to pursue our separate
destinies as far removed from
tender touching as possible  –

Yet again and again
our souls touch though words
are not understood,
stabbing so lightly these shaky egos.
inner depths of bonds exist –
our faces staring so wariy remain
strangers to the game.

The souls speak
of a companionship beyond words
or feelings.  So run we may
with the first light of dawn
but night is the time
for souls to reach beyond boundaries. . .

Bringing deep, still waters
close to the surface
in the miniscule moments,
voicing such feelings
neither you or I can ignore.
Rising than submerging
then running agaiin.

 

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker – that’s the name,
and some have told me
I’m playing the game.
I don’t seek to bruise
poor puppy egos – but wish only
to live a life of carefree
pleasure and frolicking.

Others are welcome to
join in my dance
or I might choose
to enter theirs but –
if you seek to know me –
watch my dancing
on the floor . . .

Some make mocking derisions
while in others romance seeps
through my pores – yet
all change with a suddenness
overpowering the naked eye.

All I ask is to be me  –
free, single, young and pretty,
uninhibited, running through life
on the tailwinds of a tornado –
my long hair blowing in the breeze.

 

 

 

Just a Plaything

This is an adult relationship
one not full of fantasies.
We’ve known each other
so very long –
before two marriages and after them.

And suddenly you were there
to fulfill the desires put in play
when we worked together –
but you were married, then I was.
I knew there was someone you
loved more – that I was a dalliance
until she finally broke down
and said yes.

Then you were gone,
no explanation, no call, no letter –
just gone   . . .
one night I didn’t want sex
and that was it.
What gets me most is how you ended it –
I could accept a quiet, this is not working,
But not a No Vacancy sign swinging in the wind.

.

 

 

 

Chaos of Feeling

Don’t woo me so gently
take me hard and fast
scorching the skin
in the intensity, the
blaze of your fiery passion
Please forget the tender touching,
the quiet communion of souls,
the silent reaching out
for understanding and warmth.
Wrap me in a spinning inferno
of feelings, rock the ground
upon which my  feet tread.
Let me feel those butterflies
of infatuation, too soon gone.

Don’t go so slowly
that I come to know
the secret person behind
the mask of illusion,
one you want me to see –
I don’t want to know your soul –
for if I do –
I may never wish to let it go.

Don’t court me with flatteries –
flowers, endearments –
for coming to love you
would hurt far more
than burned fingers ever could.

(No, please, take me slowly, gently –
cover me with kisses sweet with desire,
warm me in your quiet glow –
let me know that the love
I so dread feeling –
so achingly seek but mask in fear,
is possible in your arms.
Don’t leave before I can feel
the pain of your embrace
one more time – and time again – and…)

And the words they turn ’round and ’round

Just when I thought they were gone
(dirty, nasty things)
those little voices returned
like five year olds-
taunting their teacher
incessantly nagging in high
whiney voices,
to shatter any semblance
of peace and calm

Crushing new-found confidence
they tread on faltering egos
destroying all feelings
of worth, of respect
for myself.

Leaving the senses reeling,
Swaying on unsteady feet,
teetering at the brink
of an endless abyss
half-wishing to fall.

Those chattering images
of visions long stored
in deep recesses of the mind
negate a return to sanity.

Hopelessly forcing a surrender
through clenched teeth
to my defeat –
destroyed by voices of the past.

(I wrote this in 1981.  What sickens me is that so much is still the same.
But it is real, it is truth. Perhaps it deserves its day in the sun.
I was clearly Bipolar even then. As the days go by, I see the mask of
pain I wore, wear, still dragging at me – but now it makes me
nauseous to read, hopeful to grow, wanting more, so much more
than the banality of depression, starting to evolve – at 60 no less.)

Aunt Lillian

Thank you isn’t enough
for what you’ve given me.
Words have no meaning
in a world of emotions.
When I hit bottom
crawling on hands and knees
a hand was outstretched
in quiet support. . .
love without strings.

I saw hope through your eyes
gained strength in the purring
of your voice
learning you saw something
I didn’t but that must be real.
Learning  to believe in me
through the respect in your eyes
caring for myself
while you questioned after my health

I can never repay unconditional love
but through your giving
perhaps the lesson can be learned
and one day
I can attempt to love
somebody else
as you have loved me.
Thank you – my mentor, my friend.