“As life ends, I found the meaning of love”

by Joel Saperstein, loving husband and caregiver

Editor’s note: I received this handwritten letter yesterday in the mail.  To put it simply, I was blown away.  Not just because it’s rare to receive anything handwritten these days, but more so because the unsolicited words on the paper in my hands contained such raw emotion and beauty.  By the end of it, I was in tears.  I am so thankful that HPCCR was able to help Mr. Saperstein care for his wife and it is my hope that we will continue to care for him in his grief. 


Marsha was 13 years old and I was still 14 years old.  Even then we knew we would always be together.  Our teachers knew it too.  They would tell us, “Follow your heart,” and we did.

With Marsha as my friend, my partner, my love, we raised four children.  Then, with limited funds, found a way to put them through college.  An amazing achievement for two street kids from the Bronx.

I have to admit though, in all our 58 years of marriage, I never really understood the meaning of love.  Then Marsha was stricken with dementia, which gave way to Alzheimer’s disease.  Like a shroud, it engulfed her and forced her to remain in her bed.  Through it all, with a rapid heart rate, struggling for each breath, she never once complained.

I made the decision to take care of her where she would be most comfortable, our home, and I did take care of her 24 hours a day.  She had to be fed and washed and changed daily.  I am almost 80 years old, and this effort took super mental and physical strength.  I then realized that all this strength was a gift of love.  Our love never diminished, no matter how sick Marsha became.

I know that I was never the perfect husband, and I have made many mistakes.  The worst mistake, though, was not telling and showing Marsha that I loved her every day of her life.

As I held her, she struggled for one last breath, then died in my arms.  Marsha was 77 years old.  I miss her every day.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, caregiving, dementia, end of life, hospice

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2 Comments on ““As life ends, I found the meaning of love””

  1. Dad wrote the following article and was recently published in the Hospice Newsletter. Thought I would share for everyone.

  2. […] to his late wife who passed away under our care.  You can read their love story and his letter here.  Then, not much later, I received another letter  from him describing the daily caretaking […]

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