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.

Com­pass file photo by Terry Roberts

This photo of War­ren and Mar­lene Clarke was taken in Oc­to­ber 2011. War­ren passed away in May at the age of 83.

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