This time of year I have made a tradition to take the train down to Portland to meet my husband. We like going down before the craziness of the Holiday season hits, we like the changing leaves, place to stay (the Westin right in town they are wonderful and VERY dog friendly and lovely) and we have our favorite haunts in the city. I have grown to really enjoy the 3 hour #/- trip on the train. I always end of talking to someone interesting and the time flies. This year was no different.
I was early to the train and had a couple next to me fuss at each other about seemingly his getting her late to the train. The train was delayed so actually she was fine. I heard her tell him; “if it was the other way around you’d be furious with me”. He apologized and she thanked him and remarked that this was the probably the fifth time he’s ever apologized to her and she appreciates it. The train finally gets in and I amble in and find a nice seat by the window. You guessed it, the same lady from the lobby sat next to me. We started in with pleasant easy conversation. She then began to tell me about her previous marriage, how she met her current husband, why she married him and the compromises she’s made in her life to accommodate him. She explained that he doesn’t like to travel and therefore he usually takes her to the train to visit her family in Portland once a year. She tells me he’s miserable without her, so she doesn’t go more than once a year and doesn’t stay long. There is a 13 year age difference between them and he’s quite medically compromised. She really enjoys her family and speaks lovingly of her sister and nieces and how much she enjoys spending time them. I suggested to her that maybe a friend her husband’s could stay with him to accommodate more time with her family. She told me, “oh, he’d never go for that and besides he’s never really had any friends. He’s kind of a bear”. We just passed Vancouver WA. when she unprompted relaid her fear of being her husband’s caregiver. “He’s a big man and he will just make my life miserable I’m sure”. Not to be deterred, I once again made my attempt to be influential with my passenger friend. I shared some specific examples I knew of when people benefited from having a plan in place for caregiving “just in case”. I also mentioned to her that folks with strong social support fair better well into retirement. I assured her that there are others that feel the way she does. I gave her my card and encouraged her to contact me as I’d be happy to give her a recommendation. I sure hope she does.