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Posted: April 07, 2006

Spousal Caregiving

Are You or Your Spouse 'Nobodies?'

Bill Andrew

This past weekend, I had occasion to listen to a sermon that used the theme of "you're nobody till somebody loves you." The point of the sermon was that "love is what makes the world go round." You can give love -- but you also need to be on the receiving end of love. 
 
Love is a reciprocal activity. I have emphasized this in past columns especially as it relates to spousal caregiving. See What Is True Love? and I'll Be Loving You, Always! as well as other related columns.
 
Many times, depending upon the illness or disease state, our spouses may not be able to verbalize that reciprocity -- but you and I know that it is there because of our spouse's body language. We show our love for our spouse by being their caregiver without reservation or complaint. My wife, Carol, has late-stage Alzheimer's disease and can not respond verbally most of the time -- but she does respond with her body language! And that brings me to the point of this column. Is your spouse a "nobody?" Are you a "nobody?"
 
The song You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You brings this all into focus. Written by James Cavanaugh, Russ Morgan, and Larry Stock, it was first played and recorded by Russ Morgan and His Orchestra in 1946. During the 1960s, many artists recorded the lyrics including Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Kate Smith, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, the Mills Brothers, Bobby Darin, and Wayne Newton. What made this particular song so popular? Why did all the "big names" record it? Was it the lyrics? Let's find out!

You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You
 
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you.
You're nobody 'til somebody cares.
 
You may be king, you may possess,
the world and it's gold.
But gold won't bring you happiness,
when you're growing old.
 
The world is still the same,
you'll never change it
as sure as the stars shine above.
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you,
So find yourself somebody to love.
 
The world still is the same,
you'll never change it
as sure as the stars shine above.
You're nobody 'til somebody loves you.
So find yourself somebody to love.
 
The above lyrics were those of Dean Martin in his 1964 rendition of the song. Done in his own inimitable style, Dean really brought feelings into these lyrics. Now I want us to think about what those words really mean in terms of your spouse and yourself -- and for me, Carol and myself.
 
I would like to focus on three lines in the above lyrics: "you're nobody 'til somebody loves you," "you're nobody 'til somebody cares," and "so find yourself somebody to love."
 
Let's start with "you're nobody 'til somebody cares" which reflects directly on your role as a caregiver. Obviously, your spouse is not a "nobody" since you care for him/her. Conversely, you are not a "nobody" since you do care for your spouse. This reflects directly on your love relationship with your spouse -- by "giving" to your spouse, you are "loving" your spouse by providing that care. Since love is a reciprocal activity -- my motto is "loving is giving . . . giving is loving" -- you are both giving and receiving love.
 
Next, "you're nobody 'til somebody loves you" reflects on your spouse's role as a care recipient. In this case, your spouse is not a "nobody" since you obviously love your spouse by being their caregiver. Conversely, you are not a "nobody" since your spouse reflects his/her appreciation for the care that you provide -- verbally or body language. Again, this shows the reciprocal relationship of love -- both giving and receiving.
 
Lastly, "so find yourself somebody to love" reflects on both you and your spouse. Obviously, as your spouse's caregiver, you have already found somebody to love -- and have loved -- since you are there for your spouse on a daily basis. Conversely, your spouse has somebody to love -- and loves -- since they are on the receiving end of your care -- and your love. Once again, this shows the reciprocal relationship of love -- both giving and receiving.
 
While the other lyrics are meaningful to each of us as we get older, they are simply reinforcements for the three lines discussed above. They focus on the reasons why our love for our spouses is so important -- and critical -- for the well-being of both our spouses and our selves. 
 
So, back to the questions above. Is your spouse a "nobody?" Are you a "nobody?" Hopefully, like Carol and me, the answers to both questions are "NO!" We have somebody to love and somebody loves us. We provide care for somebody -- our spouse. Indeed, "love is what makes the world go round" and love is what makes us caring, compassionate caregivers for our spouses. We give love -- and we receive love. 
 
And we do have "somebody to love", don't we!
 

If you have any thoughts on the above and would like to share them with other readers of this column, drop me a line at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

WORDS TO CARE BY. . .
 
"Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself."
Jean Anouilh (1910-87)


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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© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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