Confessions of a Caregiver, Vol. 1, First Comes Love

So, let’s start with who I am, and about Claire and myself.

I’m Lou, Claire’s husband and life partner, AKA Mr. Turner, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Flip-it (the colorful caregiver monikers to be clarified at a later time). I am 75-years young with Claire being 53-years young. (That’s right, we’re the exact same ages as Harrison Ford and his wife Calista Flockhart.) Claire and I met in Connecticut at a hot yoga studio where I was teaching full time after having recently retired from 38 years in the construction industry. And talk about lust – oops! — I mean, love at first sight!

There are no accidents. Claire was in Connecticut teaching her last two weeks of motivational seminars, and after work she came every evening to the studio to do yoga led by yours truly. After class, we talked, and then hugged at the end of our sessions. There was no kissing, although it was on my mind constantly; what there was, however, was undeniable: chemistry.

Claire could not figure out why I would not ask her out on a date. She knew I was interested! Answer to the question: teachers do not date students. Integrity thing. Once she left Connecticut and flew back home to Oregon, I was now free to date her! And I did!

One month later on October 3, 2005, I flew 3000 miles to Portland for my first date. Claire was standing in the arrivals lounge where we experienced our first kiss. And OMG! what a kiss! It was the kind of kiss that makes two souls one. I remember Claire being so excited that night that she had to use her car’s GPS to find her way home to her apartment. That lets you know what great kissers we are (Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart might be more famous, but I’d wager that Claire and I are better kissers any day). After that first soulful kiss followed three marvelous days together. WOW, just WOW! We have been together ever since.

I knew that Claire had FSH muscular dystrophy at the time we met because she had told me so. Plus, she had a little belly, which is often a physical feature of those with FSH, a look that I loved. She was fully functional at this time, and for many years after we became a married couple.

Oh, what adventures we had back then. We started by hiking mountains in Connecticut, and then toured some of New York state and Vermont. We soon decided that we wanted to live in New Zealand and open our own yoga studios. She packed up her apartment. I packed up my apartment. A garage sale decimated our worldly possessions.

Claire and I have always been led to the right place, at the right time, to do the right

claire S-CAssella& lou CAssella Hot Yoga of NZ
Claire and I as new yoga studio owners – Nelson, NZ, 2006

thing. In November 2005, we departed for New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud. By 2006 we opened our first hot yoga studio on the South Island of New Zealand. Claire designed it, and I built it. She told me where she wanted a door positioned, and I punched a hole in the wall to get it going. She told me what color she wanted that door painted, and I hired laborers to do it. I told her that I wanted to cover up the big, old glass windows, and she told me, “No way, too beautiful!” Etc. At the same time, Claire created our 6-month teacher training program. In the 10 years we spent in New Zealand, we created two more studios and taught nine teacher training programs, certifying about 160 students as yoga teachers through Yoga Alliance in the United States.

 

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Rome, 2012

While in New Zealand we traveled quite a bit, seeing about 80% of the extremely beautiful and diverse country. We crossed the ditch over to Australia many times, and vacationed in Fiji and Samoa. While touring parts of Europe in 2012, however, Claire was limping down the Champs Elysees. It was the first tell tale sign of a new and different kind of journey that lay ahead for both of us.

 

Within a year Claire’s FSH symptoms started to worsen, and we realized that we had to make changes in our life. We sold all of our holdings in New Zealand and moved to Oregon, to a small town outside of Portland called Lake Oswego. Again, there are no accidents. Together, we bought and renovated a 1922, 4-bedroom cottage that just happened to come on the market at the perfect time.

Oregon summers are unbeatable, but the winters, eh, not so much (unless you really, really like rain). Since Claire’s progressive condition has not been conducive to the rain, cold, cloudiness, dark skies and dampness in Oregon’s winter months, we now spend part of the year in Arizona. We like the Scottsdale area because of its paved, multi-use trail systems. We also like the nearby Phoenix area because of the availability of high-quality occupational and physical therapists and Chinese medicine professionals.

This is where Claire and I are right now as I write this blog. And where I love her still. I am her husband, lover, travel partner, friend and, now, her full-time caregiver. I confess that the caregiving role is not always an easy one (much more on that in upcoming posts). But, again, there are no accidents. I have the opportunity to learn and experience deeper love and greater compassion. I am a blessed man.

More to follow.

In the meantime, you can reach me at: lcassella@icloud.com

— Lou

2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Caregiver, Vol. 1, First Comes Love

  1. This is such an inspiring and important message of what it means to love and LIVE – thank you both for having the courage to share your journeys. Big love to you 😍

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