Sunday, November 25, 2012

                                                                                                             photo by Gwyneth Jones
I've spent some time over the past week learning how to be a caretaker. Harold's time at Spaulding (from where the photo above was taken on an extraordinarily clear and windless Thanksgiving morning) is coming to an end, and we hope to have him back with us next week. However, his recovery is still very much in progress, and somehow I will have to substitute for the many people who currently take care of him, in different capacities, throughout the day.
The training is simple enough, but it has given me lots to ponder. It seems nearly all of us are caretakers at one point in our lives. Parenthood, of course, is a prime example. But eldercare is increasingly a responsibility that families take on, and while America will never have the extended family structure common in many parts of the world, more and more families are opting to take relatives into their homes.
The therapists at Spaulding are very concerned that I won't be able to handle it. I think they are wrong. I am sure there will be moments of frustration, but there is also the joy of bringing home an absent spouse after two whole months, and the sure and certain knowledge that Harold wants more than anything to come home. And why should he not? It is true my life is about to change, but as a veteran of the foreign service, my life was always changing. I am lucky in my children and I think Harold will rally when he finds himself back in his own surroundings.  
At the moment my greatest frustration is mechanical. I wasted two hours trying to install a toilet bar for a toilet that is not designed for the model. I am ready to throw the wrench across the room! I'm trying to get up the nerve to change a shower faucet from stationary to sprayer, (The package said "simple installation" and like fool I believed it. And now I've discovered I need a new drill to install the grab bars that must go into studs, and the stud finder that I know we used to have is nowhere to be found. The hospital people did not train me for any of this!
The irony is that Harold is the best man for these jobs -- he was always amazingly handy, and I never needed to learn how to do all this. But clearly, mastering installation is just one more life skill that I am now called upon to master, so back to the garage to resume the search for the stupid stud finder.     

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