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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are you busy living or dying...

Today is like any other Thursday...work, gym, make meals, etc, etc.  Nothing too exciting but nothing too bad either.  Kind of just a regular gray color that feels like what life is for me lately.  If it sounds like I am on the depression continuum...I would have to agree.

Then, I looked at my phone and pulled up instagram.  I immediately saw the picture that my Queen posted and sat for about 5 minutes staring at it.  What a beautiful picture of regular folks doing regular things.  Not necessarily easy, glamorous, fun or designed to make you laugh but just living life.  That picture made me smile for a long time.

I admitted a lady yesterday that has ALS.  That is the fancy term for  Lou Gehrig's disease and it is not easy, definitely not glamorous or fun and I would think difficult to even smile at times.  As I spent time with her and her husband, I noticed that there was something about both of them that drew me in.  I wanted to help them anyway I could.  By the end of our time together, I asked if I could come over today to visit with her again and sit with her while her husband got out of the house to do some volunteer work.  She mentioned that she didn't like to be alone and he needed the time to do something that filled his soul.

I showed up today and walked in the open front door to find my lady in bed.  She was comfortable and had a view of a beautiful mountain meadow that deer and elk would stand around eating grass.  When I commented on the meadow, she scribbled," aren't I lucky to have this nice view?"I agreed.  She can hardly talk, swallow and her muscles are getting very weak and she is aware of the beauty of the meadow!  After I checked her out, I pulled her rolling walker up next to the bed.  She called her dog on the bed to lay by her while we visited.  I  talked and she talked but when I didn't understand, she scribbled and did hand gestures so we could get to know each other.  We talked about decisions she needs to make,  and how she can have control when she feels like she has none.  I asked her about her husband, their 50 years together and how he too will have to understand her wishes and she understand his.  It was quiet and I figured she was probably tired and I would get ready to go.  But as I bent down to pack up, asked me about my family.  While I love to talk about my family, I wondered if she was just being polite and asked her if that was the case.  "No" she blurted out and reached for her pad and pen.  I told her I would love to talk about my family and I pulled out my phone.  I showed her pictures and the picture on my blog.  I told her the story of my queen, where she is and what she is doing...and she clapped her weak hands together, smiled so big that her eyes almost shut and put two thumbs up.  The only word I can describe her as is joyful. 

She was joyful for me and my family...while she slowly gets weaker and needs more care.  Humbled....

We finished our visit, I bent down and hugged her and thanked her for talking with me.  I told her that I am so glad that I am getting to take care of her and would see her on Monday.  Then I looked around her modest home and left.

There is a certain quality of life that we all strive for.  For some of us, it is a perfect house, lots of cars, toys and things.  For others, it's a close family and health.  And, for others, it's being content in the moment, where we are, with what we have and with what health we have.

Some would say that this woman is dying...and before I spent my time with her today, I was one of them.  But she is not, she is busy living...maybe not how we would picture living, but for her it is what she has now and instead of hanging her head down, she is looking out the window at the deer and elk and smiling, she is being joyful with others, for others and is appreciating what she has now knowing it will be changing.

I seem to get these people that I am supposed to be helping that leave me speechless (and that is not easy.)  People that I learn so much from about hope, love, living and dying.  I can only hope I give half of what they give me back.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Closing time...

I worked today...6 visits for 7 patients.  It was a humbling day.   As I drove, the song..."Closing time" came on by the Semisonics.  The part of the song.."Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end"  struck me and sat with me all day.

I had plans with a patient's wife, a friend that I knew from the days of pre-school for dinner.  I was nervous and worried about how she was doing since the love of her life has been gone for 2 months. 

I had the honor of caring for them in his last days and knew she was tender and was missing him terribly.

We met at a local restaurant, hugged and sat down.  I asked her how she was and she began to tell me of her life now.  She regaled me with the tales of broken down cars, bills to pay and things that her love did that she has taken over.  She told me of the big house and the deck sitting alone wishing he was there.  She told me of the wins....getting the car fixed, paying the bills and being strong to honor him.  Then she told me of how she remembered his last day...did she do enough...did she tell him how much she loved him before he left?

I took a sip of my pink wine and asked her if I could tell her what I remember.  She reluctantly listened but I could tell the words were causing her pain...

I told her of walking into her home and watching her hold his hand  and gently stroke his fingers as we talked about his illness.  I told her of the tear that rolled down her cheek as he told me that he was done fighting and was ready to be comfortable at home and not pursue more treatment.  I told her how I envied her strength because it was obvious to me that she wanted him here longer.  I told her when he turned to her after he made the statement,  she smiled at him as if she was  "all in". 

By that time, we both were tender and tearful.  I continued to remind her of how she fought for him...for treatment, for cure and when that was not a reality...for dignity, comfort and a quiet, peaceful death in his own home, his own bed and with his wife beside him.  I told her that she did everything right and that we can only wish that would happen to us when it is our time.

I told her how it wasn't fair but it just was...and how I was so impressed with how she loved her husband...and what her kids saw as she loved and cared for him until he was no longer here.  We toasted him, his life and how she loved him...

I fought with her over the check...and won.  "You owe me" I said and left it at that.  Paying for dinner is a small price for having the honor to care for a man with such a kind heart and lovely family...

I drove home and my cell phone buzzed..."you are such a good soul" was the message from my friend.  I sent back a text telling her how much I enjoyed the night and the company. 

A good soul...I sure hope so...

Closing time, the song...the words resonate with me..."every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end".

The end of a life and the sadness that brings...but the beginning of a friendship.  I am so blessed.

This came at a vulnerable time for me...things are changing in my life,  as my children leave and become independent, my youngest son makes some choices that may change how I get to serve.  A new beginning that must come from some other beginnings end...

Sometimes it's closing time whether we want it to be or not...
I hope I have the courage...
Enjoy the song.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry