Hodgepodge: Spouses, partners often not thought about

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Hodgepodge: Spouses, partners often not thought about

by Charlie Hodge.

Thank God for Tez. Literally.

If we are lucky we find a few special people who join us in sharing our journey through life in a close intimate way – as family, friend, or spouse. I have been blessed with a number of spectacular souls playing key roles in my world – none of them more patient, caring or sharing as my wife Teresa, known to many readers as Tez.

As soon as this column is completed I will be scrambling into my suit and rushing out the door for an emergency council meeting. Problem is I had planned (and reserved) a quiet dinner for two tonight. It’s our ninth wedding anniversary.

As usual, Tez took the last minute change with a good natured shrug.

“That’s okay – it’s a week night anyway. We can celebrate better on the weekend,” she suggested, reducing the guilt cloud around my head.

The cancelled dinner is just one more in the long list of broken promises or plans over the years. Some justifiable, some not.

Regardless ‘Tez’ has displayed an amazing tolerance for my inconsistent and unpredictable actions over the years. I’m surprised she’s not cashed in her chips and cancelled the game of life with me, hooking up with someone more reliable, consistent, and healthier. Especially the latter.

Tez and I were married nine years ago on July 17. Exactly one week earlier I was diagnosed with late stages of Emphysema. Life expectancy was not great.

My personal shock paled compared to how difficult it was for me to share that halting reality with my fiancée just one week prior to our wedding. It was the hardest news I ever had to share with someone. So it was that when we spoke our vows of ‘rich or poor, sickness or in health’ the words held an almost suffocating weight to them. True to her word though Tez has more than stepped up to the plate.

Mortality is never easy to deal with and when one is dealing with a long term terminal illness it is often more difficult than a short term check-out. Neither scenario is fun, both incredibly mentally, physically and emotionally taxing. Tez has truly stood incredibly steadfast in her promise for the past nine years. She has been tested over and over and remained solid.

What many folks fail to comprehend is that dealing with impending death is often much harder on the partner than on the person dying.

Everyone tells the ill person how sorry they are for them once they muster up the nerve to say anything at all. The ask if they can do anything, tell the ‘victim’ they are in their prayers, etcetera. For the victim it is helpful and appreciated. However the spouse is the one who really needs or should be given the support.

For years I’ve watched people kindly pass on their thoughts and prayers to me and yet not truly think about how lost, lonely or afraid Teresa may be. They do not mean to ignore her – it simply is forgotten within the emotion of the time.

Ironically I wish I could trade places with Tez, except that would mean she would have this deadly disease which I would not wish on anyone. Still I fully understand how lonely, sad and scared she must be. All she wanted was a partner to share the rest of her life with and suddenly she is feeling ripped off of that chance.

She is the one that makes up for all the work I can no longer do in the house or the yard or … anywhere. It’s Tez that takes up the slack with yard work, house work, chores, paying bills, getting groceries, looking after the pets, carrying stuff, and babysitting me. She now makes most of the meals, helps me with my meds, rubs my lungs, and calms me down when I get stressed over it all.

When I was in the hospital it was Tez that took control of my health, making decisions, dealing with house issues as well as social. It was Tez who kept council in the loop, the media informed, and the family in tune. And probably cried herself to sleep many nights.

She is on call 24/7 as I wake up in the middle of the night choking or unable to breath. It is her that lays awake after I have finally gone to sleep listening to me wheeze and grunt, air machines whirling.

Of greatest frustration for Tez and or other spouses in such a scenario is that no matter what they do or say they cannot change the end result or outcome. It matters not how many tears they shed, prayers they make or fists they pump at God – they cannot change the end result.

Occasionally I wake up after she has finally gone to sleep and I watch her and marvel at all she does. I wish with all my heart I could wave a wand and take away all her hurt and worry. But I can’t.

What is the point of today’s ramblings? Well there are a couple I suppose.

If you know someone who is in a similar struggle, make sure and tell their partner or spouse that you are there for them as well, that you care and empathize, and that you love them too.

As well, this column allows me the ironic honour of telling her how much I do love her and am thankful for such a caring and kind heart. It’s a chance to say, Happy Anniversary Tez.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.

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