A Caregiver’s Last Day by Abbie Johnson Taylor

There comes a time while caring for a loved one when you must make the difficult decision to move him to a nursing home. In September of 2012, Bill was getting weaker, making it difficult for me to transfer him from one place to another. We called in a physical therapist who said that due to Bill’s declining condition, it was no longer safe for me to care for him at home. We looked into the possibility of him moving to Greenhouse, which has a better long-term care concept, but Bill was on Medicaid, and there was a six-month waiting list. We put him on the list and with a heavy heart arranged for him to go to another nursing home for the time being. He never made it to the top of that waiting list, passing a month later.

The following poem talks about our last morning at home before he moved to the nursing home. It was published in Labyrinth: Poems from Wyoming and Beyond, a chapbook produced this year by WyoPoets, a state organization that supports poets and promotes poetry throughout the state. Click this link to hear me read it.

***

FOR THE LAST TIME

 

Your leg jerks in pain,

as I put on your socks and underwear.

You wince when I roll you over,

pull up your pants as far as they’ll go.

I put on your shoes, pull you upright,

haul on your hoody, fasten your gait belt,

with a lot of effort, swing you from bed to chair.

We embrace–you’ll begin a new life

where others can more easily care for you.

We’ll always be together.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

 

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17 Responses to A Caregiver’s Last Day by Abbie Johnson Taylor

  1. Wranglers says:

    Abbie this is sad, but yet a blessing . Bill had to have known how much you loved him, and I believe you knew how much he loved you. You make the world a better place. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Cherley, I’m sure you’re right.

    Like

  3. Doris says:

    Never an easy decision Abbie. You put it beautifully with so few words. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Doris, you’re right. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we both made it together.

    Like

  5. So heartfelt, Abbie, so poignant! Thank you for sharing and I’m happy your piece is recognized by WyoPoets!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Abbie, how lovely to turn your experience into a poignant poem for others to share your love and grief. It’s hard to write when you are suffering, but some of the best work comes when you do. Congratulations on a poem well written!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. katewyland says:

    Beautiful poem about a wrenching experience. Something we may all face at some time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, Kate. This is indeed something we all will probably face at some point in our lives.

    Like

  9. Thanks for sharing your beautiful poem with us, Abbie. It comes through how much Bill meant to you and still does. You’re a very strong woman to go through all that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mike Staton says:

    Poetry… the gateway to our souls. Thank you, Abbie.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Kathy Waller says:

    Beautiful words, filled with love.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Neva Bodin says:

    Very poignant. I enjoyed your book “How To Build a Better Mousetrap” and donated it to the new gift store our hospice recently opened so others may receive from it’s message and sharing you do in it also.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Neva. It looks like my memoir, My Ideal Partner, about how I met, married, then cared for my late husband after his strokes, might be published sooner than I thought it would be. When that comes out, you’re certainly welcome to donate it to the hospital so that it will also inspire more caregivers.

      Like

  13. Nancy Jardine says:

    The idea of remaining at home till the end is a popular one but it isn’t practical unless a huge amount of additional support is there to make it work, Abbie. A poem like the above has to sharpen the memories for you, but I’m sure the’re good and very sad at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joe Stephens says:

    What a poignant poem. I can’t imagine the pain of making a decision like that. I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m glad you’ve been able to process it and make a lovely artistic expression from your pain.

    Like

  15. S J Brown says:

    Abbie, I hope you find comfort in the knowledge that Bill knew how much you loved him and I am sure he appreciated your devotion to him.

    Liked by 1 person

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