We tend to think of women as caregivers, but nearly a dozen husbands, including my own, spend considerable time each day attending to a wife with chronic health challenges. I don’t remember such a thing with the adults in my childhood, but this is real and it’s life-changing.
When my fibromyalgia began 19 years ago, I was probably in denial. Yes, I consulted doctors, but tried to stay dressed until Guy went to work. As soon as he left, I’d be in bed with the debilitating exhaustion and unexplained pain.
When he retired, no more denying.
I couldn’t travel, which many retirees have as one of their goals. Still can’t much. Guy does floors, grocery shopping, all the outdoor work. Since my recent shoulder surgery, he’s even taken over dishes, picking up prescriptions, and driving me to appointments–anything I can no longer do myself.
Three of the men I’ve noticed have also dealt with their wives’ unwellness for years, coming to church alone. Their spouses at home don’t have enough energy to get dressed and even to interact with others.
Two care for a wives too ill with COPD to travel, or be out in public anymore, especially with the Covid-19 scare.
At least three of them do caretaking every evening after they get home from work because of their wives’ disabilities.
Spouses of two of the men suffer from fibromyalgia plus lupus, which dictate their lives, what normally enjoyable events they can attend.
Yet another has dealt with his wife’s doctor visits, surgeries, and recoveries for years.
One man commented that he was doing “maid duties,” since his wife suffers from neuropathy. Occasionally he travels with his buddies, but I’ll bet he comes home with a smile on his face.
As Guy does when he’s out for ice cream in a classic car with his best friend. Or a small group of them drive to “Boone for breakfast” on a Saturday morning. Or even a few days at a condo in the Ozarks for a group of husbands whose wives don’t travel well.
He always comes home.
I’ve been pondering that lately. All of these men are part of a quiet brotherhood who long ago–some over 50 years ago–took vows to be there for the long haul. They’re fulfilling those vows well.
Others can’t help but notice what blessing they are to their wives and families, all of them.
For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. . .
They always come home.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – I John 3:18
Featured image by one of the men mentioned above. He was grateful that someone had brought him the Lysol. I was also struck by the poignant hand-knitted dishrag on his sink.