Manly Strength

Yesterday my young friend who cares for his grandmother said, “You need to tell people that being a caregiver isn’t emasculating.” He has an cousin who doesn’t want people to know he is caring for his mother. Evidently his cousin thinks caregiving isn’t very “manly”.

I would agree. I think caregiving is one of the most difficult jobs a person will ever do. It takes an incredible amount of emotional and physical strength along with tremendous patience and a strong stomach. I don’t think most men are tough enough to do it.

I guess I’m a little like my mother in that way. She had her own version of the creation story, which expressed her feelings about men in general. She used to say, “When God finished making Adam he stepped back, looked at him a bit and said, ‘Oh, hell, I can do better than that!’ and that’s when he made Eve.”

More often than not, it’s a woman who carries the heaviest load when it comes to caring for loved ones. But then I thought about my husband Alex who cared for his first wife through her terminal illness with lung cancer. After Amey’s death, he continued to provide care for his mother-in-law through the end of her life. Our friend Steve lovingly cared for his wife Mary through a long, arduous and painful battle with cancer. And our young friend has to constantly adjust his work schedule and juggle his duties as a father and husband to take care of his grandmother.

The truth is, I’ve known a lot more women caregivers than male caregivers. And when a man steps up and takes on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, it shows remarkable character and courage. It demonstrates that they have a huge heart and the capacity to love and serve others. If that isn’t manly, I don’t know what is!