November 03, 2006

for love or money

eeeeeeeeeer, bam, eeeeeeeer, bam, eeeeeeeeeeer, bam, eeeeeeeer, bam

The screen door is blowing and slamming without notice from any in the room.

yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap

The westie won't stop talking.

kkkkklllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooooo, ack, ack, ack, kkkkkkkkkkkkkk

And the wife is snoring away, six inches from me, the sound is like nothing I've ever heard. She's had a fall. A small square white bandage covers a tiny portion of a huge dark purple bruise that stretches from her hairline down to her chin. Her arm is broken and even if she were awake, she wouldn't really be here. She's been slipping further and further into dementia for the few years I've known her.

Her husband peers up at me through puffy eyes. Oblivious to the noise, he's been figuring for two days straight now. CD income, pension, social security, investments...did i reach the same figure? He scares me. At eighty-eight, he shouldn't have this kind of stress in his life. He's been up all night tending to his wife's every need, and everytime she rests, he gets waylaid by financial decisions.

It's time. They are going to move into a facility that can take care of his wife and he'll have an adjoining suite. He tells me he's worn plumb out, that he has help and still can't keep up. She was up most the night, so he was too. But he only mentions it briefly and then gets back to the numbers.

It's apparent the nursing home is going to swallow all their income and eventually, most of their assets as well. Still, that's what they are for. These golden years have turned out to be plated. A facade of rest and worry-free living has turned into an exhausting dance with doctors, medicine, government forms, and a near weekly funeral. Their friends are dying left and right.

I think he might be tearing up, but he removes his glasses and mindfully cleans them. Once they are back on his nose, his pen goes back to scribbling figures. All the figuring in the world won't make these numbers grow. At this stage in life, there isn't much we can do to create more income.

"How 'bout you let us pay this bill?" I say and as the words leave my mouth, I see the panic wash right off of his face. It is such a burden to this man, the mere suggestion of assistance lifts his spirits.

I feel like he needs encouragement. He hasn't had anyone to share these life decisions with in nearly a decade. His poor wife, built like a professional tennis player, is as healthy as a horse but as competent as a newborn baby. He sulks under the pressure of doing the right thing for both of them.

I tell him I think he's making the right decision. That he can't be husband, nurse, mother and friend. I tell him the best part is she'll be well taken care of and for once in a long while, he will be rested enough to really enjoy his time with her.

And his expression says only one thing, he's offended.

"Look here. I love that old gal in that chair over there with all of my heart, and I'll tell you why. I have had a very good life. I hunted, I fished and I pretty much went and did as I pleased. That ole gal, she worked, she went to the store, she provided every meal I ever ate, she raised our children to be loving outstanding women just like her. She never tired of my selfishness. And, she was right at my side for all the peaks and the valleys that this world doled out. And I tell you something else, if I never slept again, I still couldn't pay her back for life she made for me."

We finished our paperwork and I headed out the door. And there was no question left in my mind about who my wealthiest client was. Lord knows I deal with a lot of bigger accounts, but dollars aren't much comfort to the emotionally destitute.

Posted by shoe at November 3, 2006 10:44 AM | TrackBack

... indeed... he is a wealthy man.... excellently observed by you....

Posted by: Eric at November 3, 2006 12:06 PM

How nice to see love like that. I just have one question: Where are their children?

Posted by: Denny at November 3, 2006 04:06 PM

Wow - for a moment there I thought you were talking about my grandparents 15 years ago.

And you're right - the life/love they have shared makes them richer than midas....

Posted by: Tammi at November 3, 2006 04:32 PM

wealth such as this provides more than $ could possibly buy

Posted by: bonnie at November 4, 2006 02:30 PM

That question of Denny's comes up for me too. What a pair. Love that rich is rare.

Posted by: oddybobo at November 6, 2006 08:47 AM

in answer to denny's question: the kids are here and involved, the man's worry remains. but they aren't on their own, the are adored and doted after by many.

Posted by: shoe at November 6, 2006 12:48 PM

Every once in a while I ask myself why I spend so much time online. Blog bloggity blog, blah, blah, blah.

And then I read something like this, and I know my time is well spent...and that if there's anything to this Online Journaling, it's that it's introduced me to people like my little shoe.

Posted by: Elisson at November 7, 2006 09:20 AM