By Daphne Simpkins
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.