By Claudette Miller
At the age of 56, my husband of
25 years was diagnosed with end-stage
emphysema. The doctor told Glenn he could no longer work.
For the next three and a half
years, his life was extended by the use of oxygen. I became
It was difficult for Glenn to accept he was no longer
the breadwinner. This tore at his self-esteem, which required verbal affirmation he still had
worth. Sometimes, a terminally ill person is
deserted by their spouse because the latter feels
overwhelmed with the prospect of being a
caregiver. With this thought in mind, I constantly reassured
Glenn I would never leave him.
I reminded myself I must let Glenn accomplish tasks on
his own, even though I could do them
faster. I believed as long as Glenn felt he could be of
viable use, he would fight to live.
Glenn had a passion for roses. He enjoyed working in
his rose garden and watching them
blossom. He would talk to them by name. He fussed over
them all, but his favorite rose was the
“Dolly Parton.” Being outdoors helped him feel closer to
God. As he worked in the dirt with
his hands, he conversed with God.
I informed our two children that we must surround their
father with positive attitudes and
words, creating an atmosphere of life. As stated in
Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power
of life and death.” Words of life bring hope, while
negative words tear down.
Handling a full-time job and taking care of Glenn
provided a nesting ground for raw emotions
and weariness to grind at my stamina. I was aware I needed
time for myself. Even though it was
difficult to leave my husband at home, I would visit a
friend for those required moments of
It is all right to cry. It does not show weakness.
However, I didn’t want Glenn see me cry.
Many times I would climb into the bathtub for personal time
of prayer with God. Those
moments of crying on God’s shoulder equipped me with new
strength when I returned to my
Glenn and I would spend special times together. Since Glenn
liked to watch football, I would
watch football. Glenn liked to play cribbage, so we played
cribbage. Terminally ill people need
to feel that others are not afraid to be near them.
There were subjects that would have been easier to
sweep under the rug. We discussed such
things as life support and funeral arrangements. I listened
to his heart, his concerns and his fears.
I chose to put aside my wants and to honor his wishes.
Glenn was not afraid to die. He would tell me,
“Don’t spend a lot of money on the funeral. A wood box is good enough. I want to be dressed in my
Army skivvies, the same uniform as my
men wore in battle, not my dressed uniform. ”
Glenn wanted to make a video tape for the
children for future moments when they needed to
hear their father’s voice. Regretfully, he was unable to
finish this project. I wish I had been
more supporting in this endeavor.
We tried to keep God at the center of everything we
did. There were times Glenn was not
able to go to church, but he kept himself spiritually fed at
home. When I arrived home from
work, he would gladly tell me what he learned that day from
a TV evangelist he watched.
We talked about our future, allowing us to dream of the
things we were going to do together.
We planned trips. God did a mighty work in restoring
relationships and friendships. After
20 years of no contact, Glenn’s two children from a previous
fellowship with their father. This event fulfilled a
longtime dream that he would see his children
When I had to bathe my husband, push him around in a
wheelchair, or help feed him, I
wanted Glenn to feel loved and special. I endeavored to
serve him just as if I were serving Jesus
(see Ephesians 6:7).
I repeat again that it is very important caregivers
find time for themselves. I was blessed with
some very close friends who encouraged me. Whenever Glenn
was in the hospital, my friends
would put aside their agendas to be with me. I believed
strongly in spending time with God.
During these times of worship, God filled me with endurance.
One of the hardest things I had to do was to release my
husband. There came a time when
Glenn was tired and ready to go home. He held on for me. I
remember the last day when I was
driving to the hospital; I told God that if Glenn was ready,
I released him. Throughout the
entire time as caregiver to my husband, I relied on God’s
grace to pull me through the difficult
times, which He did. Every time I see a rose, I think
of my husband and his rose garden.