And now my surgeon was letting me know of the immense physical difficulties that lie ahead for me. There was little to do. I’d continue to lose mobility. Physical therapy could help and so could pain medications, but the thing I’d need the most was care, physical and financial.
“My best advice to you,” my surgeon said, “is to stay married.”
I did not stay married, but I tried. I was unhappy, but I was also overcome with the fear of aging alone. If I left my husband, who would take care of me? My doctor’s words echoed in my mind. Was it unfair to stay with someone out of a need that was not love? It was. But I could not envision a life without my husband’s help, and so I planned to stay until he left — which, eventually, he did.
My stepfather had recently died. He’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s seven years ago and my mother had cared for him until the end, applying her steadfast and resolute Midwestern work ethic to the labor of long-term caregiving, which fell entirely on her.
There was much she’s not been able to say about the personal cost of those years of care, much she would deny out of love. But as I watched her watching Matty, I knew she was seeing a representation of that dire cost.
"Avis Hitchcock, a 30-year-old from Florida, has cared for their parents for six years. Both of their parents have battled two types of cancer, from...