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Posted: July 31, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

Reflection on 'Walking Alone' After Half Century of Marriage

Bill Andrew

In my last column, I discussed the fact that since my wife Carol's death on in early June, I would be "walking alone." After almost 57 years of married life, I will indeed be walking alone since I will be without her by my side day after day. And within that context, these components are true -- I will be "lonely" without her and "alone" without her.  

My grieving and mourning will continue since I do miss her despite the trials and tribulations of having been her 24/7 family caregiver for 14 years. However, life does go on and so must I. So, while I have many fond memories of our life together, I will have to continue on this "life journey" without Carol until we meet again in Heaven.

 

Upon reflection -- and through lots of prayer -- I have concluded that while I will be "walking alone" in one sense, I am not really "walking alone" because I have much to be thankful for. I have family, friends, various resources, and my Christian faith to support me on this continuing life journey. And this reflection led me to the song "You’ll Never Walk Alone," especially within its context of "walking with Jesus." And that means that my "life journey" now also becomes a "faith journey."

 

"You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel." Because the song is included during the graduation finale of the musical, it has become a standard, sung by graduation classes throughout the United States. It has been recorded by many famous artists, including Frank Sinatra, Mario Lanza, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Elvis Presley, Kate Smith, Ray Charles, and many others. An operatic version was performed by Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, with James Levine. The song is also sung by Jerry Lewis at the end of his annual telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

 

The lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein follow. Click here for a beautiful complete recording with a Christian theme (these lyrics are slightly modified from the original lyrics).

 

            When you walk through a storm

            Keep your chin up high

            And don't be afraid of the dark.

            At the end of the storm

            Is a golden sky

            And the sweet silver song of a lark.

 

            Walk on through the wind,

            Walk on through the rain,

            Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.

            Walk on, walk on

            With hope in your heart

            And you'll never walk alone.

 

            You'll never walk alone.

 

The lessons from the above lyrics are to not be afraid and to have hope. At my age (almost 80), I am not afraid to face the rest of my life alone without Carol because I will always have her with me in my memories. I described some of those memories in a previous column Thanks for the Memories, Carol. Obviously, there are many more memories not published therein. And while life will be different and, perhaps, difficult, I will continue to "walk on" with "hope in my heart." 

 

As the song says, "you'll never walk alone" despite the many difficulties that may be encountered. Like many others going through this phase of life, I have my Christian faith to support me. And if you "walk with Jesus," you'll never walk alone. And because I will be "walking with Jesus," I will never walk alone.

 

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 . . .

 

". . . and if my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land."

 

(2 Chronicles 7:14)


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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