It’s a phrase one hears a lot, usually uttered by people in good health and far off from being one themselves. Caregivers rarely use it and the one receiving care never utters it. ‘Being a burden’ is a harsh phrase, unkind and heartless. No one needing care does so for selfish reasons and should not be made to feel guilty.
Occasionally, Beloved looks at me and sighs “What a useless burden I am to you.” I mutter something soothing and give his bony shoulders a quick hug. What else can I do? Being a caregiver is not something I find easy to do, but I (and millions of others) have no choice. If the person you love needs help, you give it freely.
“I dislike burdens, said Juan
and at my back I often hear
Time’s winged chariot changing gear.” *
When you are waiting for time to pass it seems to stand still. We are in week seven of the recovery period; I could swear we’ve done several years already. And yet
Though patience be a tired mare,
yet she will plod.**
Still, half way there, if all goes well.
Sharla came to tend to my feet. She is a relatively young woman married to a much older man, who is already retired. Last week I warned her that my current situation might easily apply to her some day. She laughed. “Oh, Tony has already said he’ll never be a burden on me. He said he would take a bottle of whiskey and disappear into the hills. ‘You'll never see me again.’ ”
Her reply was: “Oh yes? Well and good. But tell me, when you are old and decrepit and quite useless how will you get to the hills? By taxi maybe? Or will you want me to give you a lift?” I don’t think Tony had an answer to that one.
I found time to snap this thrush in the process of demolishing a snail.
*Eric Linklater : Juan in China
** Shakespeare : Nym in Henry V