The ultimate, yet, necessary betrayal occurred today. My husband and I met with an elder care attorney so he could sign Power of Attorney documents officially giving me (his wife) the right (and responsibility) to make financial and medical decisions for him. The same designee’s were made 8 years ago in our original power of attorney documents (POAs). But, POAs have about a five year shelf life. Eight years ago it was just another document in a binder full of papers we barely understood and were sure we would never need. Today was different.
My husband’s POA is an absolutely necessary legal document to protect our family. His disease robs him of his judgement. He no longer has an understanding of his medical needs. There are stories of people with FTD emptying bank accounts. This cannot happen. We still have three children to finish raising. While he is still capable of making the decisions regarding his POA designations, it had to be done.
Afterwards, we sat at the neurologists’ office. This appointment ironically was scheduled on the same day. He could not fill out the yearly form updating basic demographic information. He did not blink while passing the clipboard from the receptionist to me, and I accepted it with grace knowing that this small admission was not easy. The POA allows me to legally fill out all forms for him going forward.
Over the last several years, the decision making afforded in the POA has completely shifted from him to me but in an informal way. It just slowly happened. Today, the document made it legal. But, he does not rationalize his own incapacities. It would be another reminder to him that he is no longer the man he once was. For me, it was yet another reminder that I have lost my partner in this complex thing we call life.
So why do I still feel like I am betraying my husband? I did not explain the necessity of the document. This was never the dance of our marriage. We shared, trusted, and worked as a team to run our family. I willed him to sign it without asking questions. So was this a necessary betrayal or an act of love? Today, I have to accept it as love – a love strong enough to take all the difficult, necessary steps to take care of my dying husband.