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Posted: November 24, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

Because Of You, My Love!

Bill Andrew

On this, the occasion of my spouse's 76th birthday, it seems appropriate to reflect on what Carol has meant to me during the more than 54 years of our marriage. This reflection is even more important when I consider the over 11 years of caregiving I have been called upon to perform for my spouse, who has late-stage Alzheimer's disease. Each year that passes is another milestone of achievement in maintaining her health, her quality of life, and her dignity.

As I have indicated in prior columns, my commitment to our marriage vows, to my faith, and to my love for Carol are the foundation for my spousal caregiving philosophy. This was driven home to me this past week when we made our semi-annual visit to Carol's neurologist -- he made the initial diagnosis almost nine years ago. As a practicing physician of many years experience, he finds it unbelievable that Carol is doing as well as she is doing -- and that I am keeping up with her. According to him, other patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when Carol was are no longer with us. In his mind, that makes Carol an anomaly as an Alzheimer's patient. I guess that makes me an anomaly as an Alzheimer's caregiver.

And that got me to thinking about how to best express my personal reflection in this spousal caregiving column. Everything I have done for Carol during our long marriage is a direct result of my love for her. Because of Carol, I have been thrust into this role of being a caregiver for the love of my life -- and for the rest of her life. Mind you, I assume this role willingly -- however, many of us spousal caregivers never planned for this role, nor were we prepared for what we must do for our spouse each day. And, to my mind, this is where the aforementioned commitments to marriage vows, faith, and love must be best expressed.

Because of You!

"Because of you" -- those words could be accusatory in one context. However, in my personal context, "because of you" reflects the joy and happiness that caregiving has brought into my life -- and continues to bring into my life as I provide for Carol's many activities of daily living. And that joy and happiness is best expressed for me in the song "Because of You."

With words and music by Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson, it was written for the 1940 movie "I Was an American Spy". Tony Bennett's rendition was the #1 hit on Billboard for 10 weeks in 1951-52. This was the first of his many hits and the one remembered by most of us "old-timers" who listened to, and danced to, this beautiful romantic song. Listen to Because Of You as you and I reflect on the words of this song:

"Because of you, there's a song in my heart.

Because of you, my romance had its start.

Because of you, the sun will shine,

The moon and stars will say you're mine,

Forever and never to part.

I only live for your love and your kiss.

It's paradise to be near you like this.

Because of you, my life is now worthwhile,

And I can smile

Because of you.

I only live for your love and your kiss.

It's paradise to be near you like this.

Because of you, my life is now worthwhile,

And I can smile

Because of you."

Yes, there really is a "song in my heart" -- because of you, Carol. Our "romance had its start" because of you, and you are mine . . ."forever and never to part." "Your love and your kisses" were my reason for living -- and it has been "paradise to be near you like this." "My life has been, and is, really worthwhile" because of you. "And I can smile because of you."

Perhaps some of you reading this are saying "how corny." Perhaps, if you are sentimental like I am, you have tears in your eyes. Perhaps the words to this song accurately reflect your feelings for your loved one, as it does mine. Perhaps these words will help you to reconsider just how you are providing care for your spouse. Perhaps this column will give you the fortitude and other virtues to continue to provide that care for your spouse -- no matter how rough and tough that may be (Heroic Virtue: A Platform for Caregiving).

I hope and pray that the words "because of you" are not accusatory words that you use with your spouse because you are a spousal caregiver by default. None of us really wanted this job, but it is a job we have to do because of our commitment to our marriage vows, faith, and love. It is a job we should do because our spouse deserves the very best. Hopefully, this column has helped, and will continue to help, you to provide the very best care for your spouse.

Has caregiving for your spouse brought joy and happiness into your life? It has into mine!

WORDS TO CARE BY…

"Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness;it is generally the by-product of other activities."

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)


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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