For Better or Worse
When marriage is impacted by caregiving
On May 15, 1954 in front of family and friends Robert and Mildred said “I Do”.
Known as Bob and Millie, to those that new them best; Bob was a multi sport athlete from Rochester New York. The youngest of three children, he dominated athletically in the sandlots and on the playgrounds. His father was a Barber. His mother, who’d immigrated to America from Poland at the tender age of 9 or 10 with merely a 3rd grade education, worked tirelessly in the laundry of a local hospital.
Young Bob left his hometown after highschool to attend college at Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Millie was also the youngest of three children. Instead of college; young Mildred had gone to work for a bank in downtown at the age of 15. (she told the hiring manager she was 16, so that she could get the job!) Each day, she took the street car to her position in the fancy bank; where she thrived.
It was in Milwaukee where the two would meet. Bob and Millie’s paths crossed at a Young Adults social at the Catholic church they both attended. Sparks flew and the courtship began.
After their nuptuals in 1954, Bob and Millie began their life together, settling in the Milwaukee area.
While raising five children they were active members of their faith community. Bob & Millie’s social circle consisted of both her childhood pals and his college crew. House parties, bowling leagues and New Year’s celebrations were common. Like other midwestern middle class citizens of the day; both were blessed with a fierce work ethic, which served them well as they made their way through life and into retirement.
Consistently faithful throughout their lives and marriage; Bob and Millie survived job loss, their children’s’ shennanigans and the loss of their parents, siblings and many friends. In 2010, just nine months after Bob turned 80 years old; they leaned on each other and their faith once again, when their son collapsed and passed away while running a 5K race, near their home.
Now, after 61 years together a new chapter has begun. At age 86, Millie is the primary caregiver for her beloved Bob who has a dual diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) and Parkinsons. Three years into this new journey, Millie tirelessly cares for Bob in their home.
Bob and Millie are my parents.
Recently my Mom Millie was a guest on a Caregiving Roundtable Discussion for Dementia caregivers. Listen closely to her words and you will come to understand how her love of Bob and core beliefs guide her caregiving philosophy.
On May 15th, 1954 the vows they spoke, may not have included the words Lewy Body Dementia. However, those vows did include the term;
For Better or Worse.