After my wife died, I was struck by something a friend said, “Of course you feel rudderless. You’re a caretaker with nobody to care for”.
I never really thought about myself as a caretaker. I always did my best to take take care of my wife and make her life easy. But that was because I was her husband and I loved her.
Over the course of her life, as her health problems worsened, I assumed more caretaking responsibility. But, until close the very end of her life, it always felt to me like we took care of each other. We were a team.
I never considered myself to be a caretaker. I just got stuff done when it needed to be done.
My friend’s words stuck with me. Over 3 years later, I still have nobody to care for. But I’ve made my peace.
I take care of Snickers. She’s my little old lady. At 14 years old, she’s clearly nearing the end of her life. She no longer walks for more than a few minutes. She can’t jump up on her hind legs the way she used to. She’s not interested in doing much more than eat, sleep and occasionally get petted gently.
So that’s what I do. I savor looking into her eyes and gently stroking her little head every day while she sighs and relaxes.
I take care of Wiggles. At 3 years old, she’s an exuberant bundle of energy and attitude. We walk for miles everyday. She snuggles in my lap after dinner. We watch the squirrels together. She can never be petted enough so I’ll pet her – sometimes for hours.
When I was dating, I naturally fell into caretaker mode. It wasn’t intentional. Some of the women I met had problems that I knew I could help with. I offered my help and support to them. Some of the women were quite secure and independent.
What they all had in common was that none of them wanted my help.
That was new to me.
I was used to offering help, being kind and sharing the “load” because that’s what my wife and I did for so many years together.
Most of the women I dated wouldn’t accept my help. I’m still not sure why.
Today, my need to be a caretaker get fulfilled by my dogs.
In the future, I may find other outlets.
But I’m not in a rush.