A Distant Husband Becomes Caretaker and Falls Madly in Love Again

Forty-one years into his marriage, George Shannon turned higher acquainted with a girl he as soon as took without any consideration, and fell deeply in love together with her.

“Such stunning blue eyes and a terrific humorousness,” Mr. Shannon stated. “I beloved her extra, I revered her extra and I wished to be together with her extra.”

They met in 1967 at a restaurant within the Pittsburgh space, the place they each grew up.

“I used to be sitting with a buddy and after we obtained as much as depart I felt a tug on my sleeve,” he recalled. “Once I seemed over she handed me a slip of paper together with her title and cellphone quantity on it, I assume she appreciated what she noticed.”

Mr. Shannon was not flattering himself and one other girl on the expense of his spouse, with whom he was married for 48 years, nor was he revealing an extramarital affair.

The lady with the blue eyes and the good humorousness for whom he had a newfound, deeper respect was in actual fact his spouse, Carol Sue Shannon, who died at age 70 in April 2017, seven years after struggling two strokes that led to myriad different bodily setbacks and resulted in Mr. Shannon changing into her major caretaker. It was an expertise that turned in essence a second tug on his sleeve, an opportunity to rejuvenate a wedding that he “had not paid a lot consideration to,” he stated, for the higher a part of 4 many years.

Mr. Shannon, now 73, who retired as a vice chairman for Northeast gross sales at a Georgia-based firm that maintained water high quality for communities, seemed like a person drowning in sorrow when he talked concerning the chilly, empty years of his marriage earlier than changing into his spouse’s caretaker and rediscovering magic.

“Carol by no means complained about something or requested for something, and I took benefit of that by being egocentric and self-centered,” he stated, pausing for a painful second to clear his throat.

“Every little thing I wished to do, I did with out first asking what she thought of me doing it,” he stated. “I’d say issues like ‘Carol, I’m going out to play golf,’ or ‘Carol, I’m going out ingesting with some buddies,’ and all she would ever say was ‘that’s tremendous.’ She was at all times deferring to me as a result of it was at all times all about me, but when I needed to do it over once more, I would definitely stability issues lots higher.”

Mr. Shannon stated that earlier than his spouse had her first stroke in April 2010 on the ultimate evening of a trip in Cabo, San Lucas, Mexico, that they had “ relationship, although our love wasn’t actual deep.”

A month later she had a second, rather more devastating stroke that drastically affected her speech and stability. She subsequently fell twice, which led to her breaking each hips, requiring surgical procedure and an extended rehabilitation. She would undergo yet one more fall by which she broke a shoulder, and later had a coronary heart assault that warranted triple-bypass surgical procedure.

“Via all of these challenges she by no means misplaced her spirit, by no means misplaced her smile, and by no means complained,” Mr. Shannon stated. “At any time when somebody requested how she was feeling, she would merely say to them, ‘I’m tremendous.’”

When he started the caretaking course of, he stated he “started worrying much less about me and extra about her.” Mr. Shannon and his spouse started rising nearer and their emotions for one another intensified “till it obtained to the purpose the place we had been head over heels in love once more,” he stated. “I felt humility for the primary time in my life, my coronary heart and soul opened up, and I may simply really feel that the particular connection we as soon as had was again once more.”

Lara E. Fielding is an adjunct professor of psychology at Pepperdine College and a psychologist in personal apply in Beverly Hills who makes a speciality of utilizing mindfulness-based therapies to handle stress and powerful feelings. She stated the emotional transformations of Mr. Shannon and his spouse throughout these final seven years of their marriage might be attributed to human nature.

“A tragedy equivalent to sickness can completely carry nearer as they battle a standard foe collectively,” she stated. “We get nearer after we discover a area to be susceptible collectively.”

“The standard day-to-day annoyances fall away,” Dr. Fielding added, “and we keep in mind what actually issues, and we develop united in what’s most necessary.”

Mr. Shannon nonetheless lives in Sewickley, Pa., a small city 13 miles outdoors of Pittsburgh, the place he and his spouse raised three sons, together with Chad Patrick Shannon, 44, a lawyer turned author who wrote together with his father “The Greatest Seven Years of My Life: The Story of an Unlikely Caregiver.” The self-published memoir was launched in December. It chronicles the metamorphosis of a distant-to-doting husband.

“My dad was hard-driving and demanding each as a partner and as a dad or mum,” he stated. “He was profitable in enterprise, however he was additionally this very critical, intense, Kind-A character who all of my highschool buddies had been afraid of.”

“My mother beloved my dad, however to be trustworthy, he wasn’t absolutely in love together with her till these closing seven years,” he continued. “However as soon as he obtained there, he simply wished an increasing number of of the real love they so loved catching up on.”

Within the memoir, Chad Shannon described the second when his father got here to a crossroads when it comes to making caregiving choices for his spouse that may relentlessly check his resolve, and hers.

“Most individuals’s response to those circumstances could be to tumble into despair,” he wrote. “Life has dealt you a nasty hand. You’re boxed in. It will have been a lot simpler for George to seek out another person to maintain her than to do it himself. Deliver strangers into the home to supply round the clock care. Put Carol in a house. Take the simple approach out. However that isn’t George. Self-pity wasn’t an possibility for him. If he ever felt sorry for himself, he by no means confirmed it. He was all in. When the connection confronted its drastic change, George completely accepted his destiny and grew from it. He acknowledged anew that he was, as he places it, ‘terribly in love with this girl.’ He discovered pleasure in a seemingly unending process that may buckle most of us on the knees.”

The memoir additionally revealed different private challenges confronted by the Shannon household, together with the truth that George Shannon was identified with prostate most cancers on his 60th birthday.

“My most cancers is current however very a lot below management,” George Shannon wrote.

However there could be different birthdays to rejoice, over and over and over.

“In her final years, Carol may comprehend lots however may solely communicate briefly sentences, and she or he had hassle remembering issues,” George Shannon stated. “For 3 straight years whereas I used to be taking good care of her, she went all the way down to our native drugstore, which has a number of about 5,000 birthday playing cards, and she or he picked one out for me, quickly forgetting what was written on every card.

“But on all three events, a yr aside, she picked out the identical card, which informed me ultimately how a lot my spouse actually felt about me,” he stated. “The playing cards learn: ‘Pleased birthday to my husband, my soul mate, my absolute best buddy — I like you.’”