Despite the challenges that Spouse is having with his health, and despite the ongoing emotional strain in dealing with his mother’s decline to the point of being on hospice care, Spouse gave me a present for my birthday that I truly appreciate.
What? New leather, new boots, new Harley?
…no, none of those material things. At our age, material possessions rank low on the list of desired gifts.
What he gave me was a day for me. A “day off” from carting him to endless medical appointments. A “day off” from his illness making him so grouchy and difficult to be around. (That is, he really worked hard to restrain himself from being a grouch.) A “day off” from complaints about his mother. Just a day off to do what I wanted to do.
I began the day with a warm snuggle in bed with Spouse. A long back scratch was comforting and calming. Just laying my head on his chest and talking calmly about mutual interests (and not about his illness or his mother) was the beginning of having a “day off” from my caregiving worries.
Then Spouse brought me the newspaper and told me to stay in bed. He said that he would prepare breakfast! I asked to eat in the kitchen rather than have breakfast in bed because I prefer to eat in our kitchen and not in the bedroom.
Soon enough, a nice hot breakfast was ready — scrambled eggs, muffin, and orange juice. That’s all I wanted, and was perfect.
My sister who I don’t get to see that often invited me to lunch. I picked a place near her home, rather than close to mine, so I could have a reason to ride the Harley! I mounted my iron horse and rode off, singing and smiling along the backroads some 25 miles to the selected “wood fire pizza” destination. Lunch was great — just my warm wonderful sister and me.
I rode back “the long way” on a warm sunny day.
When I arrived home, I found six senior pals in the living room. They began to sing and play our piano. Spouse had arranged this — which is rather amazing because Spouse doesn’t like to have company or people around. But he made an exception for me and my birthday.
About an hour later, the doorbell rang. A bushel of hot Maryland steamed crabs — the very best in the world — were delivered! Can you say, “crab feast!”
We went out to our deck where Spouse and my senior pals had set up a table complete with everything one would need for a crab-pickin’ feast. We told stories, regaled in laughter, drank lemonade, and had a great time.
Then Spouse came out with a cake (that one of my senior pals made for me). Spice cake is my favorite and a memory from my childhood where Mom always made me one.
As my senior pals were leaving, the second crew of friends came over. Guys from my fire house dropped by to visit, have some more crabs (a bushel of crabs goes a long way!), have a few beers, and hang out.
By nightfall, my firefighter and EMT friends bid their farewell and — best yet — cleaned up! They took all the crab remnants with them to discard elsewhere, so my garage wouldn’t smell like a rotten fish farm the next morning! They think of everything!
All-in-all, it was a great day. I really missed having my twin brother with me, but it is what it is. I think Spouse felt guilty because my brother left sooner than expected. (I called my brother and had a nice talk with him on “our” birthday, so we both feel better, even if we couldn’t be together.)
As I write this, I am in Pittsburgh… long story how I got here now, but it’s not good. Life goes on.
Life is short: a day off from caregiving challenges is about the best birthday present ever.