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Posted: August 25, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

My Devotion to You, Carol, Along Our Tragic Journey

Bill Andrew

On the occasion of our 54th wedding anniversary, I thought that it might be appropriate to express my love and my devotion to my spouse, Carol, for whom I am the 24/7 caregiver.

August 22 was the magic day -- both in 1951 and in 2005. In a previous column The Vow: A Love Story, I described how Carol and I met, got married, and embarked on this "journey" of Alzheimer's disease and spousal caregiving. In this column, I would like to share my continuing love and devotion to Carol -- as her husband for 54 years and as her caregiver for 11 years.

In earlier columns, I discussed how love is the foundation for my spousal caregiving role in life. I have also discussed how our faith in God has sustained both of us on this tragic journey -- a journey on which many of you are also traveling. It also should go without saying that devotion overall to your spouse is essential to being a good spousal caregiver. But how to best express my love and devotion to Carol in a column that would also be meaningful to you, the spousal caregiving community -- that was my dilemma. And today it came to me in song on a CD of romantic songs that I often play for Carol.

Many of us remember Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra from the '40s and '50s. Vaughn Monroe had a deep robust baritone voice and wanted to become an opera singer. He studied voice at the New England Conservatory of Music and eventually formed his own band in Boston. One of his first "big band" hits was "My Devotion" which was quickly followed by many others during the '40s -- many of which I am sure you remember as I do. Go to www.vaughnmonroesociety.org for more information.

"My Devotion" was written by R. Hillman and J. Napton, and was a 1940s hit song as sung by Vaughn Monroe backed by his orchestra. The song is one that Carol and I danced to during the late '40s and early '50s when we were dating and after we got married. Carol loved the song and the music and I thought that it would be appropriate for this "day in history" and for this column.

Devotion is defined as "feelings of ardent love" and as "ardent, often selfless, affection and dedication to a person." And that is the context in which I use the word "devotion."

My Devotion

"My devotion is endless and as deep as the ocean;

      And like a star shining from above remains forever the same.

My devotion is not just a sudden emotion;

      It will be constantly burning and your love will kindle the flame.

What a sweet beginning to the dream I've planned;

      I will be content to be your slave -- your wish is my command.

And this sensation was never a mere fascination;

      Here in my heart once we get it started and with time will prove

My devotion to you."

Take a moment to reflect on the words to the song. Don't the first two stanzas remind you of when you and your spouse were first dating and got married? I know they do for me. Your personal devotion was reflected in your declaration of love for your spouse.

The third stanza is bittersweet -- especially if your spouse has Alzheimer's disease as Carol does. The "dream" is now reality -- and I am Carol's "slave" and her "wish is my command" -- since Carol is totally dependent upon me. Perhaps you are in the same situation as a spousal caregiver.

The fourth stanza says it all with the closing words "time will prove my devotion to you." With Alzheimer's disease, the "journey" can be a long one -- often 10-20 years. Perhaps you are also on that journey. How much time do we have to prove our devotion to our spouse? Only God knows for sure -- but you know that you must do your best each and every day to provide the highest quality care that you can provide. My spousal caregiver motto is "one day at a time" -- I thank God for each new day in the morning and I thank God for each elapsed day in the evening.

My devotion to Carol is renewed each and every day. That devotion is expressed in many acts of love throughout the day -- in everything that I do for Carol as her spousal caregiver.

Yes, "time will prove my devotion to you," Carol, my love.

Have you expressed your devotion to your loved one today?

If you would like to share your spousal caregiving experiences with other readers of this column, please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com. You can also ask any questions that concern you -- however, I can only share my personal experiences with you and can not provide any advice that would require specific licensure.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"…relentless as the nether world is devotion,

its flames are a blazing fire.

Deep waters can not quench love,

nor floods sweep it away…"

(Song of Songs 8:6-7)


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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© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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