The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 2, 2013

In Sickness and In Health, Part II: One step at a time into her decline



“Each step along the way, you face the fact that you’re losing all of this. Then you gird your loins and get ready for the next step.”

Dealing with the demise of a spouse, he said, can be a soul-searching experience.

“As a caregiver you’re facing your limitations,” he said. “You have to understand you’re a human being and accept the fact that you can’t meet this person’s needs all the time. You can fool yourself into thinking you’re something you’re not. But this process brings you really close to realizing who you really are.”

While the adult day care was helping, Jim was still struggling. His moods were low, he was still impatient. He said he learned that, when you’re lacking sleep and under stress, patience “goes out the window,” and that was something new to him.

As a pastor, he’d made a career out of being a good listener and asking questions that helped people find their own answers. Judy’s mental state was challenging that, and he wasn’t rising to the challenge.

“One day she said, ‘I know you don’t like me. I can tell. I can see it in your face.’ ... That was a tough one.”

He knew he was struggling. But he didn’t know it was so apparent to Judy, the person he’d spent so much time trying to care for.

In the midst of all this decline, Jim made a decision that today he regrets. He decided to take her on a weekend getaway to visit Judy’s cousin in Grand Rapids.

It went poorly. She enjoyed visiting her cousin, but she spent the weekend hallucinating and sleeping. When she was awake, she was generally confused about what she was doing there. While there, Jim and Judy had planned to visit an old friend in nearby Ely. But when Judy’s confusion prompted Jim to call and cancel, the old friend said, “I wondered why you were doing this, taking such a long trip.”

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