No. 872


Has there ever been a time in your life when you could honestly say, “These were the best days of my life?” Well, I can. Without a doubt, these were the days following Thanksgiving 2011, and up until the Lord calls my precious wife Viola home.
As I write these words it is now Sept. 5, 2012, and she is still here. Some of her friends told me they did not think she would make it until Christmas. Up until THAT time she had battled Parkinson’s for 18 years and I watched her slowly go downhill, which is the nature of this terrible disease. She went from falling more and more at home, to a power chair, then a wheel chair and finally to a few weeks’ stay in a local nursing home for some physical therapy.
After a few weeks of therapy, it was determined that she would not make any more progress, and she made the decision that she wanted to return home. Some of her well-meaning family members and friends wanted her to remain in the nursing home because they did not think I could take care of her. They could not have been more wrong.
While I had never had to be a caregiver before and my domestic skills were suspect at best, I am a fast learner and I was committed to make any sacrifice to take care of her and give her the very best care I could give her. Fortunately, I found a wonderful lady by the name of Cynthia Tillman to be here eight hours each day, Monday through Friday, and I would fill in the gap for the remainder of the time.
We started giving her medications in a timely manner, fed her well and I gave her lots of love. She is a strong woman anyway, but she rallied and the past several months have truly been a blessing. Soon after returning home she became a total invalid, spending all her time in bed or a Geri chair, and it has become a continual process of getting her out of bed, feeding her, leaving her up for a period of time and then putting her back in bed. The thing I am so grateful for is that she has never lost the ability to use her sharp mind and can recall names, events and other details very vividly. She has even walked me through the recipe to make a pan of corn bread.
Another blessing is that she continues to have her sharp wit and sense of humor. Picture this in your mind. When I get her out of bed I have to take hold of both of her legs, lift her up and turn her 90 degrees in bed to where I can get my hand under her head and lean her forward until her feet touch the floor. At this point I place my left foot in front of hers to keep her from sliding and then take both of her arms, lift her up and place her in the Geri chair. One morning after doing this I was bragging on her and she said, “Well, I like to make an old man happy.”
Another example of her sharp wit was one morning while she was in bed and I said to her, “I am giving you a lot of my love.” She replied, “I want it all.” While I can’t say that we have had this kind of relationship for the entire time we were married, these final days are, without reservation, the best days of my life.
In sharing this personal story with you, I realize that not everyone is given the same opportunity to care for a loved one or family member. I am so grateful that God has given me good health, a strong body for a 74-year-old man, and a time in my life when I could be home and take care of her.
The thing that is most important for me, and for you as well should that time ever come, is that I want to look back and have fond memories of the time we spent together, and know in my heart that I did the very best I could to take care of her.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)