After Bill suffered his first stroke, I felt helpless, as I watched him struggle to regain his strength. He was a changed man, and the change that shocked me the most was in his voice. Before the stroke, I often sat on his lap while he sang to me. He didn’t have perfect pitch, but he could carry a tune pretty well. After the stroke, when Bill told his speech therapist I was a singer, she encouraged me to sing with him to improve his speech. He could no longer carry a tune, and it was hard listening to him intone the words to his favorite songs in rhythm with no tune.
The following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver describes my feelings of helplessness after Bill came home and I started taking care of him. It also emphasizes the fact that although he’s a changed man, he’s still the one I love.
I know what to do—
I don’t know what to do.
The wheelchair, vertical bars, gait belt
offer assistance but can’t bring him back.
He’s not the man I married—
he’s still the man I love.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver