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She is accompanied by a just as strong husband/caretaker who goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to taking care of his spouse. Nancy Mairs presents her audience with an honest inside view of her life and perspective as a cripple, a word she openly uses to define herself. Mairs constantly calls herself a “cripple” because disabled or not, the word “crippled” can make a person wince (Mairs). She brings her world to us, discussing a wide variety of things including language, family, and humor, and how these all relate to her life.
Through various stories and insights, she allows her readers to gain an understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities. She examines the public’s view of the disabled, as well as the views they have of themselves, and compares them to her own. She makes it clear that she is not to be defined solely by her disability. Not only does she reach out to the general population, but she also reaches out to those in a similar situation as herself.
She helps anyone with a disability really understand how able a disabled person can be. Having George participate in my care, calls me into life. It says, despite your losses, despite your limitations, you belong here with us and we want you to stay. We want you to stay enough that we’re willing to participate in the labor that it takes” (Mairs). That is possibly the most important motivation for caregiving: to show that person that their life is valued.
Caregiving enables a person to be in the world, but it also enables them to want to be in the world when it would be easier not to.
From the other point of view a caregiver struggles with keeping a positive attitude when going day in and day out taking care of another human being. There is a constant reminder that quitting is not an option, because quitting is the equivalent to failure in this situation. “I’m not confined to a wheelchair, I have choices. I can get up and get out, and that takes some of the pressure off me” (Mairs). It is important that caregivers get space from the person they care for. Nancy makes sure to provide George with his own time.
Caregiving works incredibly if it is circular; George gives Nancy opportunities to care for him. Sometimes he does it consciously, but sometimes he just genuinely needs someone to be there for him like he is for her. He needs someone to hold his hand and tell him that everything will be all right. “If we look at everything we receive as a blessing, MS is a blessing. It probably has kept us together” (Mairs). Nancy and George Mairs have a relationship that works for the both of them.
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