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Her Bodyguard
By Daphne Simpkins 

(Page 3 of 3)

Suddenly, we were together in a corner, and I told her what everyone else had been saying—that she looked lovely. And then I turned to him, the male counterpart to a life’s mission I have survived and still think about as a mysterious part of my past that doesn’t need to be solved—just understood more and more as time passes in this new state where my father’s obituary changed my label from caregiver to survivor.

“How are you?” I asked him. It sounded like a casual question, the kind of question that everyone asks everyone. It is a question that always surprises caregivers because it is such a radical shift in focus.

This man, whose eyes have been opaque all evening, answered the question I had been wanting to ask about whether the caregiver experience is different for men than it is for women. When addressed as a human being rather than as the silent stoic hero, this bodyguard answered the question with the same old word women caregivers use in order to save their strength for later.
“Fine,” he said. But his eyes filled with tears.

Daphne Simpkins is the author of The Long Good Night, a memoir about caregiving published in 2003 by Eerdmans.

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