In sickness and in health
It was over 53 years ago that Mmmm and I exchanged our vows, saying these very words – “I, Jan, take thee, Mark, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Somehow we can’t imagine that there will come a day when we will have to live those vows. I stayed about ten days after my sister’s services to lessen the abrupt change for Carol. When I arrived back from Montana, I was shocked to find that Mmmm was very ill. He had lost a lot of weight and was so weak that he couldn’t walk by himself. Of course we made appointments with doctors and had treatments and did all the things that one does. I was alarmed when Mmmm’s doctor told me that he had “A significant illness.” He also said that he didn’t think I could care for him and should get some home health care. I became a little more alarmed when his oncologist repeated, more or less, the same thing and even suggested that perhaps we should consider putting him the hospital.
I thought, “No! No one will care for him as I can and will and no one will care as much about him as much as I do.” I had learned a great deal about caring for someone who needs care from Eunice’s Hospice care workers. They were wonderful. So I fed him every two hours and bathed him and washed his hair and helped him go from bed to chair and back. He had to use a wheelchair to go to the doctor’s office and get IV’s and blood tests. We got up 10 or 12 times at night and I was happy to do it. Gradually, little by little he became stronger. He started to gain back the weight he lost and his electrolytes became balanced and he was more comfortable. He started to return to his old self and his old routine.
Now, lest you think that I am a cross between Florence Nightingale and Mother Theresa, let me assure you that I am not. There was a whole lot of selfishness here. I would say to him, quite fiercely, “Don’t you dare leave me! I am not ready for that! The house is a mess and how can I have people in for a funeral?”
I really am not ready for him to go on ahead of me. I want more. He has been so grateful and appreciative but I was just fulfilling the vows we took so long ago - For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
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