Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sacrifice and the Things I Thought I Knew

Last night I was sitting on our large front porch thinking about sacrifice and how it relates to PD and our situation. I always go back and forth on this one. Some people, I know, feel I am sacrificing a lot to be the wife of a PWP. Do I feel that way? Well, yes and no. Last night while sitting on the porch I was specifically thinking about the porch itself, and how much I love it. I love that huge, covered, wrap-around porch. I love the house attached to the porch, and I really love the view from the porch. It is a fact that one day we will have to give it all up. Financially there is no way for us to pay off the house and build an addition. We need a larger house, but we also need a paid-for house. Not going to happen here. While there are several other options available to us, we know with certainty that the first house we purchased together, the house our daughter was born in, we will have to give up. Our house has fallen victim to PD.

Sacrifice. We will sacrifice our house, our home, to ease the financial burden of the future. I will be sad to leave the home I so dearly love, but as always, I will be okay. We will be okay. But it's just a house. I can make any house a home for us. What about all the other sacrifices made in the name of PD? Can I list them all, one by one? And if so, would it be a wise thing to do? Would it embitter me and make me angry? Would it make me sad and depressed? I don't think so . . . .

See, here's the thing about sacrifice - it's not always about what you've lost. I have found that sacrifice is much more about what you gain. In Mitch Albom's book The Five People You Meet In Heaven, the character named Captain says this of sacrifice -

" . . . Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. A mother works so her son can go to school. A daughter moves home to take care of her sick father. . . . That's the thing. Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else."

So listing all the sacrifices I have personally made for PD wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Certainly not if they are supposed to happen, as a normal part of life. But there is a big problem in listing all my sacrifices. I don't really feel as if I am sacrificing anything, except for my home. So many people have pointed them all out to me -
I am sacrificing my youth.
I am sacrificing the large family I have always wanted to have.
I am sacrificing my financial security and my retirement.
I am sacrificing my children having a young and healthy father.
I am sacrificing my emotional and spiritual well being.
I am sacrificing my home.
Over and over again I hear it all, from family and friends with the best of intentions, to nosy strangers in the checkout line at Walmart. Everyone is wrought with sorrow and regret and an opinion about what I am sacrificing in my marriage to a middle aged man with PD.
But what about my choices? Where does choice and decision come into play? I agree that technically I may be sacrificing all of the above, but if sacrifice is a part of life and something to aspire to, and if I willingly made these choices and decided to live this life, then all these sacrifices have become noble rather than regretful.

I knew from day one there was a very high probability of Keith being diagnosed with PD. I saw the tremors on our first date. The writing was on the wall, so to speak. I decided to enter into a relationship with a man that in all likelihood, would be diagnosed with PD. I decided to marry that same man, and have his children. All the things that go along with loving and being married to a PWP have been choices and decisions I have made, WE have made, together. It really takes the edge off sacrifice when it becomes a choice.

It's all the things I didn't know that ring true of sacrifice now. For instance, I knew that one day our daughter would be too heavy for Keith to pick up and hold. What I didn't know was how disappointing it would be when that day came much sooner than expected. I knew that when my son recently bought his first guitar he would want Keith to show him how to play and that Keith would have a difficult time doing so. What I didn't know was how my heart would leap into my throat with pride at my son's loving, thoughtful and understanding reaction to Keith's inability to play guitar with him. I knew that the symptoms of PD include facial masking and apathy. What I didn't know was how difficult it would be to no longer read my husband's emotions and thoughts in his face. I knew that stress and excitement would cause Keith's tremors to become more pronounced. What I didn't know was that simply telling a story about a stressful event that took place more than five years ago could still cause his tremors to worsen. I didn't know how angry I would become at total strangers getting impatient with Keith for walking slowly in front of them at the grocery store. I didn't know that feeling Keith's tremors in the middle of the night would be gut wrenching and deeply comforting all at the same time. I didn't know that I would hate his hobby for robbing me of time with him, but still be grateful to it for keeping him happy and motivated. I didn't know that I would be so willing to sacrifice nearly every single thing I have to keep Keith healthy. I didn't know it would become so important to me to have children with this man for reasons no one else seems to understand. I didn't know I would get so little support and understanding from those closest to me. I didn't know that an elderly PWP sitting in a wheelchair could teach me so much without ever saying a word. I didn't know how much I would enjoy attending a PD support group. I didn't know I could love someone other than my children so completely and unconditionally. I didn't know that my biggest fears and greatest dreams could coincide and happen all at the same time. I didn't know that I would be given so much more than I ever hoped for.

What is sacrifice without the choice and decision that precedes it? I made the choice to live this life, sacrifices and all. Yes, there were many, many things I did not know would materialize when I made that choice. Perhaps you could call that sacrifice. On paper, or this blog, maybe it doesn't always look so good. Hell, some people could get depressed just by reading this post. But regardless of how it all looks, regardless of all the sacrifices being made, in my heart I truly feel as if I have it all. These are not sacrifices made because of PD. They are decisions made in the name of love. I have a good man who loves me dearly and adores our children, who would move heaven and earth to make us happy. I have great kids who make me proud everyday. I have a nice home in a nice neighborhood. I have the proverbial life - the little house with the white picket fence. I have a wonderful life of which no sacrifice is too great. That I do know.

4 comments:

onetightnismo240 said...

The second to last paragraph actually made me tear up. I had to click to another window immediately after reading it and look at car stuff for a minute before coming back and reading the last paragraph.

Wow. So moving. You are not my mother. You ARE the mother of the most AWESOME little sister ever and a rather COOL little step brother. You ARE the wife of the father who has always been there for me when I needed him, not as a father, but as a DAD. YOU have also been there for me at different points. Someone to bounce ideas off of, give advice, or just lend an ear. You're also "19"; the perfect match for "20." ;-) And even if it gets annoying at times, its exactly what I've come to expect upon walking in the door (aside from that big grin on Rielly-Anne's face with her arms open wide). It's normal. I expect it. You have more love in your heart than most people I know. For Dad. For your family. And everyone and everything else you hold near and dear. You are the best thing Dad could ever hope for, as you are there, through thick and thin and through all of this. For all these things, I thank you... and I love you. You're the most loving and caring stepmom I could ever hope for and I just wanted to say thank you... for the past, for now, and for the future. <3

Mary said...

I'll type a more lengthy response when the tears stop flowing . . . .

PD Warrior said...

How very inspirational. I visit this blog from time to time just to look at the world from a vantage point of someone standing on the outside looking in as a way to better understand what my own wife is going through. With this post however, I have learned that my wife and I actually both on the inside, looking out through the exact same window albeit from different vantage points in the room.

Mary said...

PD Warrior -
I imagine it does feel as if we are standing on the outside looking in. How can we possible relate to all that you are going through? But yes, we are looking through the same window, we are just seeing and feeling things a little differently.
That is the point of this blog - to raise awareness about all the different ways PD affects us, especially the loved ones and caregivers that are so often forgotten. I am thankful that you found some insight here.
Thanks for stopping by!