A Caregiver learns from Encarcerated Men

I learned something from the long term prisoners at the med/max security prison where I teach every year. Their faces are unlined and their manner pretty easy. They’ve learned to get along in what would seem to me to be a high stress environment and they are careful about what they let into their lives. I had a couple of meals with a man who was set free after 33 years; for him life outside was full of day to day stressors and he had reacted badly to them. He had lost weight, his face had lines and he wasn’t the calm guy I knew from before.

In a manner of thinking, care giving is my prison.

I can’t do much of what I did before and can’t make too many plans for the future. I try not to dwell on what the future will be or when it will actually come to be. One day at a time. I’m learning to like the isolation a bit, because I am not constantly forced to compare my situation to others by being face to face with them. I do miss talking to someone who can understand what I say. Inevitably I end up talking too much to people I contact casually.

But somehow I’m calmer. It’s not due to any calming medication because I don’t taken any. Maybe the calm I feel is just the acceptance of the vagueness of the future. Whatever will be, will be. And nothing I do can affect anything

Interestingly, I’d rather talk to people I didn’t know before. To them I am just a voluble guy who’s been around a lot and has a lot of stories. Of course the ‘before’ is before my wife began to fail so noticeably. In just the last few weeks I’ve noticed a real diminution of her speaking and understanding skills. I get tired of trying to decipher the word salad and sometimes just agree.

I’ve proven to myself that even men brought up in the stereotypical male roles can become nurturing. It doesn’t always seem natural but find myself checking on her when she’s asleep or needing to be home when she gets up to see how today will be.

The relatively long complex process of restructuring our assets (as little as they are) so my wife will be protected is just about over. Just a few more forms and all is good. What a relief. A lot of effort and resources expended to protect her in the unlikely case that I predecease her.

Most mornings when my LO sleeps, I work at my desk, re-editing photos, writing dribs and drabs of comments on photos I see in online photo communities. Sometimes I just read. A major change from the drivn, impatient man I was before.

I do appreciate your reading these blog posts and I hope you will find the time to comment about any, or even all of them.

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