We were the most unlikely of caregivers. Mom is actually my husband’s stepmother. He never lived with her. He was never disciplined by her, nor was he ever consoled by her. She did not read to him or help him with his homework. She had six children of her own; the step-children were weekend and vacation visitors. They never really bonded.
Surprisingly, they are quite a bit alike. Both have strong personalities. Both are very frugal. Both have strong political opinions, and since they resided on opposite sides of the aisle, their discussions could be lively and vociferous.
So when, after Dad died, she asked him to help her with her finances, he was more than a bit surprised. He was brutally honest with her about how much money she had and what her limits were. She respected that. He was even more surprised at the level of control she allowed him.
We visited every two weeks at a minimum. I would clean her kitchen and prepare lunch while they went over her bills and income. She told us that she looked forward to our visits.
As she became less and less able to care for herself, we found that the finances were no longer top of mind for her when we came to visit. She looked to him for comfort, for strength. And then, on a Sunday morning, she called him and asked him to come. She was alone. She was scared. She didn't know what to do. And that was when he called his sisters, and the youngest started making arrangements for assisted living.
She lived only six weeks in assisted living. We continued to visit every other week. Our visits were personal and precious. We talked. We laughed. We remembered the good times. We remembered Dad. I watched him hold her hand, and the love I saw in their eyes brings tears to my eyes to this day.
They have bonded.