My husband Art has had a hip replacement, a knee replacement, two surgeries on his shoulders and one on his thumb. The recuperation for each of these required my help, which he did not want. And each cold or flu or bout of muscle soreness after working too long in the yard (he's 70, after all, not 35), is an ordeal he wants to suffer on his own. He wants me to leave him alone. Ignore him, if you will - but not really.
I, on the other hand, want sympathy and support and a listening ear when I am under the weather in some way physically or mentally or emotionally.
Up until last week, neither of us had been very successful at giving the other person what they need in such circumstances.
But Art is evolving.
I was scheduled for a screening colonoscopy for last Wednesday. The prep required two days of a low-fiber diet, one day of clear liquids only followed, in the evening, by the enchanting laxative experience, and then the morning procedure. During these four days I curtailed my activities as necessary and stayed fairly close to home. I noticed that Art was around a lot also, rather than being out and about as he usually is. He bought me white bread and apple juice and fixed low-fiber meals. He read in the living room or worked around the house on the day of my liquid diet, and he was available to listen when I needed to complain. He drove me to the medical clinic, got a flu shot while I was having my procedure (perfect outcome, "see you again in ten years"), brought me home and napped with me in the afternoon, even skipping an afternoon Creative Retirement Institute class on the history of intelligence and spying in the U.S.
In other words, he gave me sympathy and support and a listening ear. Exactly what I needed.
On Wednesday evening I gave him a hug and thanked him very much for being there for me. He said, "I knew that was what you wanted, and that is what you do for me - even though I hate it."
I had coffee with his niece Colleen on Thursday morning and told her about the support Art had given me. She said, "Uncle Art is so evolved." She remembered when he wasn't!
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