I am in awe of my wife.
Cathy’s father, Gord, has dementia. Once a proud man with a great intellect, he is a shell of his former self and prone to wandering. He now lives in a long-term care facility (a.k.a. nursing home) where he is cared for as well as any institution can.
Last Wednesday, we got a call from the staff there to say he had developed a serious bacterial infection. They wanted to send him to the hospital, since he wasn’t responding to their antibiotics. Off she went, to be at his side. She rode in the ambulance with him to the hospital. Except for a couple of brief breaks, she has never left him – while he was in emergency, in radiology and in his room. We have to say, the hospital staff have been been great, they have been caring and empathetic, kept her informed and responded to Gord’s needs as best they could.
But, really, Cathy has been his constant. When he was racked with pain for the first few hours, she reassuringly stroked his forehead. She gave him comforting words while he howled when they put the IV in and took blood. When he was confused, Cathy helped him sort out where he was. When he tried to get out of bed in the middle of the night, she was there to calmly assure him that it was OK to go back to bed. She was with him 24/7. Cathy has been is advocate, his friend, his diaper-changer. She befriended the nurses, the porter and the aides who were caring for him. When the resident came by each day, Cathy asked all the right questions and remembered what the specialist had said, ensuring the care plan was consistent. When Gord needed to choose his dinner, she took care of it. Then she encouraged him to eat when it arrived.
She has been like a mother bear with her cub. She has shown a love that can only be described as fierce.
Tonight, Gord is back home. The infection has cleared up and he has gone back to sleep in his own world, in his own bed. He is largely unaware of what the last four days were like for him. Cathy, knowing he is safe and well, has finally collapsed in her own bed, exhausted.
I am totally in awe. I can only pray that, if the time comes, I can be as fierce for her as she has been for her father.