I want to wish everyone a belated happy mother’s day! Instead of burdening Brian with the obligatory mother’s day post when we were crazed with many events this weekend, I am , in its place, posting a beautiful piece by a new friend who is inspiring. I hope all moms get to have a support in their life like Dave. Our caregivers are very important. It sounds like Charlene is still supporting him with her delcious meals. Read on…..
How One Caregiver Prevented His Loved One’s Illness from Starving Him to Death:
My wife Charlene and I had a fairytale, storybook romance, courtship and marriage for the first 21 years of our lives together. Life was good– we were “empty nesters” and we raised 3 daughters. We finally got them married, out of the house, and even got a couple of grandkids to boot. Then one day, my wife complained about a headache she had for 3 days. By the 4th day, that headache became a stroke and caused her to become speech impaired and paralyzed on the right side.
Our world immediately turned upside down, and nothing would ever be the same again. The next 3 years were “hell on earth” for both of us. Charlene had become angry and bitter, because she was grieving her loss, and then I became angry and bitter for the same reason. We almost split up, but I joined a support group, and they told me to take care of me FIRST, so I took their advice.
After 2 years, Charlene finally started to become her old self again, and our love was rekindled. She still couldn’t talk, but she could communicate non-verbally through Pictionary and Charades – two games I hated — but am trying to like. She still can’t walk, but has a power wheelchair that allows her to travel the world.
When I first met Charlene in 1974, she had invited me over to her house for a “gourmet” meal. I didn’t even know what “gourmet”” meant at 19 years old, but being too embarrassed to ask, I just showed up because it was a free meal. Well, she cooked me an 8-course dinner, and the “theme” of the evening was, “everything was stuffed”. Stuffed mushrooms with caviar, stuffed Cornish game hens, and other things that I don’t even remember. But by the end of the evening, I was stuffed! It was certainly true for me that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
I didn’t seem to mind the 10 year age difference, so we married after 15 months (and many, many gourmet meals later). I remember that she had entered into cooking competitions 4 years in a row and won 16 ribbons at the L.A. County Fair. She also preserved my Syrian grandmother’s recipes one day when she was visiting, so that they wouldn’t be lost forever. They were cooking all day long! Charlene has a whole room full of cookbooks, including those Syrian recipes.
She continues to feed me with her amazing gourmet food, and still puts on dinner parties for several people at our home, despite her disability. I’m so proud of her. She is like a 1-armed wallpaper hanger, a cross between Martha Stewart and Wonder Woman, and she just makes us “normal” people look like whiners and complainers. I love her so much and love our “new normal” these past 44 years. I am so happy that she got over her 2 years of grief, and took back her kitchen!
Best-selling Author and Speaker, and Charlene’s caregiver and husband, Dave Nassaney
Dave, The Caregiver’s Caregiver