Marlene Clarke’s tale of unconditional love
The hardest thing I ever had to do was say a final goodbye to my husband, Warren Clarke, on May 17 after 50 years and five months together.
In August 1996 he suffered an aneurysm and so a very different life unfolded ahead of us. At 53, being told that your 66-year-old husband was not going to survive came as quite a shock. However, I was not about to give up. My strong faith in God and in prayer is what kept me from ever losing hope in any way.
After four months in hospital, I brought home a very different man than what he had been, with many health issues to deal with, but my outlook was, accept your situation, always be so grateful for what you do have, and work with it.
I never regretted one instant of giving him the care he needed and encouraging him to keep trying to walk and to keep reading. We looked at pictures over and over again so that all the memories would stay vivid in his mind. Just appreciating our beautiful view, visits from our children, and more.
He often used to say, “I don’t know what I would do without you.” I would laugh it off and tell him he would do fine. When you love someone, I mean really love them, nothing is impossible or too difficult for you to do for them. My vows meant a lifetime commitment “in sickness or health,” and I feel that today too many people don’t take that seriously enough.
I was taught by my parent’s example to always put the other person first. Knowing they are comfortable, happy and content gives you those feelings too and an inner joy that I will never be able to explain.
The last three years were a little more challenging as Warren’s mobility worsened and I was in need of a hip replacement that had been put off for too long. Lifting him in and out of a chair, the bed, the bath became very painful for me.
Thank God we did have some hours of homecare by then to help with these everyday needs.
Following my hip surgery last year, I was, after three months, able to continue as I had before with his care, along with the homecare worker with us part of the day. As I kept noticing changes creeping in, especially since last December, I knew that the end was slowly announcing itself as if to prepare me for the inevitable.
We had been so very blessed to have this additional 18 years, and I was always so afraid that I would be taken first and so afraid of him being left. Who would care for him? How would they know how to talk to him to make him feel good, make him feel important, wanted, worth something?
I miss him more than I thought possible, and I will until my turn comes to cross over. However, I know I gave it my best. I didn’t care if I could never go down the driveway again and I rarely did. I felt joy just being here alone with him, knowing that he was safe, happy and comfortable, his needs always first and foremost, 24-7. I awoke every morning happy to face the new day and the best reward was that beautiful smile he gave me when I would say good morning around 5 a.m.
When I would get tired or a little down I would always pray and ask for strength and I got it. I will never understand anyone who has said to me, “I could never do all what you do, or give up everything.”
I can only say that either they are self-centred or really don’t have real love in their heart or meant the commitment they made. I know that I was placed in this situation to learn, to be there “in sickness or in health” and I chose to appreciate everything by truly living love for another.
I have never regretted anything I had to give up and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
— Marlene Clarke writes from Brownsdale, Trinity Bay, where she is mourning the recent loss of her husband,
Warren. He was 83.
This photo of Warren and Marlene Clarke was taken in October 2011. Warren passed away in May at the age of 83.