‘Caregiver’ redefined?

The word “caregiver” in the tagline above bothers me because it really isn’t accurate any more. But the title, Dementia isn’t funny, still works because dementia isn’t funny. Not in the least.

The thing is, I’m no longer my husband’s caregiver per se. For the past 18 months, since he moved to a memory facility, there’ve been are nurses and aides, companions and activities personnel doing what I did at home for years. A care giver I’m not, but I do still care.

I’m no longer in charge of trying to get him to take his meds or take a shower, to change his socks, or brush his teeth. No longer do I drag him to get his hair cut, his beard trimmed, no more do I do his laundry. Still, when I visit I often try to get him to put his clothes away properly rather than stuffed in his shoes or under his pillow. To convince him to change into a clean shirt is almost  impossible. He’ll answer “Yes, dear” and continue to ignore me as he always has. I always laugh because I never could change his ingrained stubbornness and I certainly can’t now! On the other hand, the things he likes to do, sweeping for instance, he’ll do willingly, thoroughly. He leaves no leaves unswept, no blade of newly mowed grass on the pavement.

One afternoon we were sitting in the gazebo when, out of the blue, Peter said it needed a coat of paint. I agreed—that gazebo is very shabby looking. I suggested a blue ceiling, a tradition in the South said to scare “haints” away and possibly even mosquitos and wasps too. I decided to find out if painting was even possible. And it is!

The following Sunday we looked at color chips at Lowe’s and picked some blues— Playful Pool and Vintage Aqua were nice. Later I found the color at left on-line: Benjamin Moore’s Ohio Haint Blue. I favor that because, well, I grew up in Ohio. Both sets of grandparents had blue porch ceilings and none of them had ever been further south than Columbus.

The gazebo hasn’t been painted yet, but I’m confident it will be. In fact, I have it on good authority that the ceilings of the porches will also be painted “haint” blue. I’m lobbying to have the garden benches painted a matching color, and maybe find floral chair cushions shades of blue for the porch furniture.

Meanwhile, I haven’t thought of a new word to replace “caregiver” in the tagline. Peter would probably suggest “the wife”: The wife, Judith Clarke, looks for laughs every day.  He’d laugh himself silly at his joke, knowing I would not!

Haint (haunt) ain’t in my dictionary, but hain’t is.
The latter, a contraction of ain’t and have not. 

Header photo: Peter loves to sweep the porch near his room. Soon there will  be a haint blue ceiling above his head.




2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

16 thoughts on “‘Caregiver’ redefined?

  1. You and my grandma would really have got along, Judy; my grandpa invariably referred to her as ‘the wife’ (I always thought it an expression typical of their generation). She never said a word but her lips tightened up and sparks flew out of her eyes! 😀
    My dictionary of Ohio also remembers hain’t but not haint!

  2. I say you are still a caregiver just different duties….and you are taking care of the gazebo, the gardens, you are an advocate for the residents. So Judith I say once a caregiver always a caregiver….keep the original by line.

  3. This fits right in with the lyrics to “Haunted House” – “ain’t no haint gonna run me off.” He probably had a haint blue ceiling on his porch. As for the subhead, you could go with “jocular tooth grinder” or maybe “darn giver,” but I like it as is. You give lots of care through being there, talking, needling, wheedling, and other ways, and you give it through the words that appear here. It’s great that you don’t have to do it alone.

  4. Judith, you are a caregiver in every sense of the word. Care-the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something. Giver-a person who gives something.
    You give care of yourself every single day to the health and wellness of Poppy. You pour love all around him. It’s because of you that he does so well.
    You are giving care to the residents of Warm Hearth by working towards their welfare and maintenance in your plans to make their home more stimulating and loving.
    Don’t ever underestimate what you do. You are an inspiration and the essence to the definition of caregiver. <3

  5. My sister-in-law introduced me to your blog yesterday and I am binge reading all your posts! I am so happy to connect, thank you so much for sharing!!! My husband has been in a memory care for 7 months and I do feel more like his wife again. He can’t say wife or my name, but I do love introducing myself to the caregivers and other family members as David’s wife now. Again, thank you for sharing!

Comments are closed.