I've seen something incredible happen over the past few weeks.
My wife of 31 years has evolved into an insightful, confident, assured caregiver for her 81-year-old father.
First, you must understand that Kim is generally one of the most pleasant people that I know on the planet. If she were a cartoon, roses and hearts and bunny rabbits would rise in her wake whenever and wherever she moves. Cinnamon and vanilla would scent the air about her. She's the type of person that makes me slam on the brakes of the car when a squirrel scampers idiotically in front of us. She's tender, tender-hearted and soft-spoken.
But for the past month, circumstances have turned her into a 24/7 caregiver for her dad, although she's never been trained to do this professionally.
She did this willingly, knowing the toll it would take on her both emotionally and physically.
About a week ago, as dad's condition worsened, she was required to prick his finger for blood to test his blood sugar (he's diabetic). She's not fond of the sight of blood, but after a nurse showed her the procedure, she performed this task twice daily. Without fail. Without flinching.
I didn't think it could get any worse for her than that, but then, a few days ago, a vascular specialist discovered a clot in dad's leg. The next thing we knew, Kim was giving dad two injections of blood thinner a day — in his belly — with hypodermic needles. Without fail. Without flinching. Oh my God.
This doesn't include the sponge baths, the guiding visits to the commode, the general housework of keeping him moving that filled her days.
I don't know how she did it. More than one person has told me, "You do what you have to do," and I guess I knew that to be understood.
My job was to stay out of the way. Keep the fires burning at home, help her break away for a few minutes to get a bite to eat, to do any heavy lifting her father might need to get from here to there. Otherwise, stand clear.
We took dad to the hospital last night. It's time. It might be his time. A doctor there told Kim that if it had been him providing the 24/7 home care, he wouldn't have done anything differently than what she had done for her father over the past several weeks.
I've been witness to a remarkable evolution in my wife: I discovered an inner strength I never knew she had to complement the compassion I always knew that graces her spirit. She humbles me and I love her all the more for it.
Her dad is a lucky man.
So am I.