Friday, September 4, 2009
How to Select the Ideal Life Partner
She was 15 and I was 16. I know what you are thinking, but no, the Frankie Valli song goes, “she was fifth grade, I was sixth”. Our story is cute…but not that cute. Anyway, Kim almost immediately decided we would be married. It was years before I realized that this decision had already been made for me, that it was the right decision, and that I really had no say in the matter (although she may have created that illusion in order to humor me). This was to become a lifelong theme in our marriage. She almost immediately knows what should happen next, and she waits patiently or gently nudges me, until I finally come to see the light. When she’s in a particularly generous mood, she allows me to think that it was actually my idea in the first place. There was that snowmobile I bought her (me) for Valentine’s Day one year. That was all me.
So if you read my initial post in this blog you know that I listed Kim’s caregiving as one of the factors I have working in my favor- one of the reasons I lead such a contented life as a disabled person. Actually, I think that it's a little misleading to list Kim as just another tool in my disability toolbox. There is no person, organization, or medical device in this world that is more responsible for my happiness and well-being than my wife- not by a long shot.
These are the things I wanted for my wife. She deserves it. But life is not like a bank account. Just because you make deposits doesn’t guarantee that you will enjoy withdrawals later. There is no FDIC insurance working here. Life doesn't owe us anything. Life simply happens, and you make adjustments to the best of your ability. I just felt a momentary urge to mention something about lemons and lemonade, but I supressed it because I‘m afraid I’d lose half the readers, and justifiably so. Close call.
I find it difficult to believe, but the divorce rate is remarkably high among couples where one partner becomes disabled. For us, I think just the opposite has happened. We've grown closer by facing our challenges together. Although our lifestyle is not (and will never be) what we once imagined, we are making the best of it. And I'm not convinced that we're any less happy than we would have been with the travel, or the second home, or the big camper. Who knows, maybe we will travel a bit.
There must be books written on the challenges faced when a spouse takes on the added role of caregiver. Without having read any of them, I am certain that there is a consistent theme in each book about how the disease can be as trying for the healthy spouse as for the sick spouse. I believe this. I’m not just playing the martyr when I say that I'm glad it happened to me instead of to Kim. I’m actually being a bit selfish about the whole thing. When you're standing on the outside and watching your sick spouse it must be difficult to know the right thing to do or the right thing to say. You can't tell if your spouse is about to fall and needs you to provide a cushion or if he/she will be annoyed because you interrupted what was going to be a successful maneuver. When you're on the outside you can't tell if your spouse is in serious discomfort or is just grimacing because he's got, well, killer gas. I suppose Kim can’t know for sure if the disease is actually making me despondent and I’m only faking contentment, or if I’m really doing OK on the inside. Kim, I’m really doing OK.
I feel very fortunate that I have a life partner, best friend, and now primary caregiver as wonderful as Kim. However, I deserve no credit for this decision made so many years ago. I didn't choose her because I thought she would make a great life partner. I already told you why I chose her. I just got lucky, very lucky. Kim has a contagious passion for living, and is a wonderful mom. She is thoughtful and caring, sexy and fun-loving, intelligent and dedicated, optimistic and industrious, loving and patient. She could've done so much better than me, but I'm glad she didn't.
It’s just another example of the charmed life I lead that to this day, in addition to everything else, she still has a nice ass and a playful personality.
I love you Kim. I sleep well knowing that no matter what challenges await us, the ones that are on our radar as well as the ones we don’t even know about yet, we’ll be facing them together. And even more importantly, the joys that we’ll experience in the coming years…we’ll be celebrating them together.
Maybe we’ll celebrate another World Series win this year? Uh, well, ya, maybe.