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June 3, 2023 7:00 am
Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC, Ret. joined me for a special conversation about his life as a caregiver for his wife, Betsy. I sent the manuscript of my new book, A MINUTE FOR CAREGIVERS - When Every Day Feels Like Monday to Col. North's publishing company (Fidelis Publishing).
The manuscript resonated deeply with Col. North - who is in his own difficult caregiving journey. He not only expressed a great desire to publish this book but also graciously offered to write the foreword - which I included below:
Foreword by Oliver L. North
The Mayo Clinic diagnosis wasn’t good—but at least we had one, instead of guessing. After returning from an assignment as an embedded correspondent and host of War Stories on FOX News, I believed Betsy—the half-century-plus love of my life; my best friend on earth; mom to our four magnificent adult children; “Nan” to our eighteen terrific grandchildren—must have had a stroke.
Lots of people, including my own mother, recovered from strokes. Betsy will too, I hoped. I was wrong. After several days of carefully examining Betsy and countless images of her head and body, the extraordinary doctors at Mayo gently delivered their findings— verbally and in writing: “Your wife has a degenerative, asymmetric brain disorder called corticobasal syndrome . . . It is characterized by apraxia and rigidity on one side of the body . . . These symptoms are often accompanied by dementia and ‘cognitive disarray’ . . . As of now, it is incurable, and untreatable . . .”
My initial reaction to this devastating diagnosis was, "Betsy, you and I have been through a lot together. We have so many things planned for our “Golden Years”! I’m a U.S. Marine; we’re a team and followers of the Miracle Worker, Jesus Christ!"
We’re going to beat this evil malady.
But we haven’t.
Shortly after we returned home from Rochester, Minnesota, MajGen John Grinalds, USMC (Ret), and his wife, Norwood—dear friends since the 1970s when their examples led us to our faith in Christ—came to visit us. After listening to the diagnosis, John asked, “Who are you feeling sorry for, Betsy or you?” After thinking about it, I replied, “Me.” John nodded and said, “Your new mission, Marine, is become the very best caregiver Betsy will ever have on earth!”
Thus, began for me, the most challenging physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experience of my eighty years on earth. That was nearly five years ago. Despite many months of reading, listening to “coaches,” viewing countless videos, even keeping company with several thousand terribly wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Guardsmen, and Marines—and their families—I was exhausted and adrift on how to be Betsy’s caregiver.
Then, Peter Rosenberger sent his draft of this inspiring book. Finally, I thought, someone who knows what I’m going through. He’s been there, done that!
A Minute for Caregivers is now my “go-to” primer for every challenge I face in caring for my best friend. If being a caregiver to someone you love is part of your life, you need this book.