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Posted: July 03, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

Thanks for the Memories, Carol

Bill Andrew

As I indicated in my last column, my wife of almost 57 years, Carol, went to her heavenly reward on Monday, June 9, 2008 -- may she rest in peace with the Lord. As I write this column, it’s just over three weeks since she passed, and all that I am left with are memories of our life together. Carol, thanks for the memories!

Thanks for the memory of the night that we first met at a dance -- and you stole my heart and we danced all night. I have always thought of that night as "love at first sight." I am not sure that your girl friend, who I had been dating, appreciated you "stealing" me from her -- but love prevailed. God had a plan for you and me to meet that night. Thank you, God -- and thank you, Carol.

Thanks for the memory of that moonlit night on the shores of Lake Michigan -- March 24, 1951 -- when I asked you to be my wife, and you said "yes" without any hesitation! Little did we know what the next 57 years had in store for us; I was a poor student at Marquette University and we had very little money. But we survived together. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of our wedding on August 22, 1951. You were a beautiful bride. I will always treasure the vows that we made at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: ". . .to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part." Now that death has parted us, you will always be in my heart -- and in my memories. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of our first son, Glenn, born on July 24, 1952. As a first-time mother, you did a beautiful job. You stood by me during my senior year at Marquette and still had time to bring in some extra income to supplement my GI Bill stipend. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of our second son, Neil, born on April 22, 1954. With two little boys, you had your hands full. But you still managed to do an admirable job with them -- and with me, as we were transitioning from a university environment to a job environment. Although you were only 5'2", you managed to "stand tall," despite the many difficulties we were encountering as we adjusted to this new life together and with two young boisterous boys. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of arriving in Florida on November 14, 1960 -- your birthday -- with two young sons and a whole new life and environment. How many husbands can say that they gave their wife a trip to Florida on her birthday --- and they stayed for nearly 48 years! While my new job meant I was not readily available to help you in this transition, you made a heroic effort in raising the boys and getting them adjusted to their new school at St. Joseph's in Winter Haven. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of the many good years that we had in Florida, our trips back to Wisconsin, to the beach, to Europe several times, accompanying me on business trips as the boys got older, your support and assistance with my consulting practice, and the many other supportive things that you did for both yourself, for the boys, and for me. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of being able to make a trip to Italy in late 1996 where we had the opportunity to visit the Vatican and attend an audience with Pope John Paul II. I will never forget when we climbed to the top of the dome in St. Peter's Basilica together – this, despite the apparent looming of the onset of cognitive/memory problems. You were a real trooper. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of also being able to make a trip to the Holy Land in 1997 where we "walked where Jesus walked" with Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ. We sure saw a lot of Christian history -- and you were there every step of the way! We also had an opportunity to visit Christian sites in Egypt as well as the Great Pyramids! Again, this despite the early onset of cognitive/memory problems. You really were a trooper. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of the first real diagnosis of what turned out to be Alzheimer's disease in January 1997. This was confirmed in a more intensive diagnosis two years later, in January 1999. Although I trace the beginning of our "journey of faith" to a "trigger event" in September 1994, we really did not know what we were dealing with until this latter diagnosis. That is when you became a "care recipient" and I became a "family caregiver." You accepted the diagnosis with faith in God, and so did I. That was the beginning of our 14-year "journey of faith." Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of August 22, 2001, when we celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary -- a real milestone, given the realities of our new lives dealing with Alzheimer's. And while you won't be with me on August 22, 2008, when we would have celebrated 57 years of life together as husband and wife, you will still be with me in my heart as I remember you, our life together, and the many memories I will always cherish in my heart. Thank you, Carol.

 

Thanks for the memory of these past 14 caregiving years. I consider them to be the best years of my life, since I was sharing my love for you -- and my total commitment to you as your 24/7 caregiver --- as I vowed before God and you on our wedding day almost 57 years ago ". . .to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part." 

 

Thank you, God, for giving me the opportunity to love Carol -- and for 57 years of love and commitment with her. And now, all I have left is the many memories of our life together and the "journey of faith" that we have travelled together.

 

Thanks for the memories, Carol. May you rest in peace with the Lord. 

 

Please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions. I will include them in a future column with your permission. Please provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

 

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

 

"God gave us memories that we might have roses in December."

 

J.M. Barrie (1860-1937)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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