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Here we go again


Ralph Thomas


  Over the past couple of months I have written two columns about being a caretaker or perhaps the better term is caregiver. One column was a bit on the serious side (unusual for me) and the other one was the opposite.

  This year I have learned, after 79 years, what it means to be a caretaker of someone you love and with whom you have spent over 56 years. In this regard, we took care of each other. The serious column addressed the steep learning curve I experienced since the beginning of 2013 as SWMBO (my wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed) suffered gall bladder and shingles issues, neither of which was easy for someone in their seventies. I thought the end of April was the end of my caretaking duties. But, then...

  SWMBO received a call from the hospital telling her that her annual mammogram showed a suspicious spot. This, in itself, was unnerving after decades of good reports. Then, a biopsy was scheduled. The following week we learned the big C had finally struck our family. Having four daughters, we have considered ourselves fortunate that we had dodged the bullet for so long, especially when the experts say one of three women will have to deal with cancer. Now, I have been thrust into a new dimension of caretaking and one for which I was totally unprepared.

  Gall bladders can be removed, shingles can go into remission, but the big C is like an unseen enemy and sneaky in every regard. My initial reaction to the news was hoping for the best and thinking the worst. I felt powerless. I was entering a new dimension of caretaking.

  Now, I not only had to be supportive of SWMBO and do whatever I could do to make this journey as easy as possible for her, but I found myself on a journey that was  foreign to me. The dreaded questions began to gather . . . the “what ifs.” Thousands of people have had to deal with these “what ifs” but it is the first time I have had to deal with them. They are like poisonous insects lurking in dark corners just waiting for a time to invade my mind during quiet moments.

  Although the family began to mobilize and spread the word, eliciting prayers from far and wide, the mobilization was directed at my wife, as it should be. But what about me? Does anyone know how frightened I am? Does anyone know how helpless I feel? My methodical thinking processes were cranking out various scenarios and possible solutions, none of which were pleasant to dwell on. It is like riding on a runaway train with no one at the controls  . . . until I had an attitude adjustment. “I am not in charge” flashed through my mind. We all have things come our way that we are unprepared to deal with. The answer for me is that I don’t have to be in charge. There is one who is much better equipped for that job than I.

  The surgery has been scheduled and now we wait . . . but not alone.

  Our wonderful family, friends, emails, telephone calls, flowers and cards have lightened the load of worry. Ongoing improvements in medical technology constantly improve the chances for a good outcome. But most of all, we have faith. Faith that He who created us, cares about us and loves us beyond measure, is in charge . . . whatever the outcome.


  Ralph Thomas is a Locust Grove resident and the author of Doing Great, but Getting Better and Getting Old Can be Fun.




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