In the past several months, our experiences with Home Health, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy have seen a nearly endless parade of people we have never met visiting in our home. Usually there are just the thoughts that my OCD personality brings, ie., did I wipe up the spaghetti sauce from in front of the stove, is the dust very visible, are there threads all over the carpet from my last sewing project, etc. However, there was one visit in particular that got me thinking about those around us, from those we have known forever, to those we have known just a short while.
One of the nurses that came in to fit my husband for a back brace took note of the shadowbox display of my husband’s Air Force medals. He began to tell her just a few things: places we lived, people he had the pleasure of meeting. It dawned on me and I mentioned to her, as I waved my arms to encompass my husband and I, that “this, this right now, is not who we are.” What I meant by this is that, while someone may come into our home and spend time with a sweet man who has had his share of medical challenges, along with his frazzled wife who tries to appear organized, this is NOT who we are. Well, in the literal sense it is, but it is only part of our life experience.
If I could tell our new acquaintances what I REALLY wanted to say, it would be this: spending just an hour a week with us doesn’t articulate the fact that we were once young. We were vibrant. The kind, quiet man that you take vital signs on once traveled the world with three United States Presidents. This man once worked on Air Force Jets, and jumped into action one day to subdue a piece of flight line equipment…liquid oxygen, ironically, before it could explode and seriously hurt or kill he and his co-workers. This man worked in the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain, doing his part in protecting our Nation’s Defense. This man worked in Combat Camera, and once came under sniper fire as he and his co-workers transported equipment during a Presidential trip.
This man raised up two boys into fine young men…in doing that, he camped, coached t-ball and baseball, was a Cub Scout Den Leader, and an Assistant Scoutmaster in our son’s Boy Scout Troop. This man taught multiplication tables, helped solve Algebra problems, and passed along his love of music and guitar to our boys. This man fished, played paintball, and shot fireworks with his sons. Took them to the circus and to the zoo.
It is true, the ones who kept us young and busy have now moved on to launch their own independent lives. But even before our lives became full of blood pressure checks, water weight gains, O2 Sats, etc., we were whole. We were a part of things. We went to dinner, to the beach, to the park. So many times I long for us to wake up and be those people again. So many times I long to just jump up and go, and do. It has been a long road to acceptance that those days are gone. I just desperately want to remember, and for the world to know, that we aren’t just a jumble of vital signs. It is true that we are a couple who are old before our time. Yet, inside each of us resides a part of our former selves that longs to soldier on and make the best of things. I’d like to think that when this little inkling of who we once were appears, it once again puts us back into the viable, regular world. If only for a few moments we can be us again, in their eyes.