Reflection

Patience is stretched thin
With all their wants and needs.
It’s time to get them up again
Sit them down, begin the feed

Their rooms are always hot
Sometimes it’s hard to breathe.
Glancing at the clock a lot
It’s almost time to leave.

Getting home at midnight
To enjoy some needed rest
Fall asleep in the chair,
Head nodding on my chest.

I wake in the middle of the night
My back is stiff and bent.
I shuffle to the bathroom light
My energy is spent

My eyes are weak and blurred
I lean closer so I can see.
A scream that can’t be heard
An old man in the mirror…staring back at me

( We should never forget…Your road may lead you here )

Posted in Elder care, end of life care giving | 6 Comments

Just A House

Today my brother will drive to Macon and sign the papers that will turn our childhood home over to people we do not know. This happens tens of thousands of times a day in this country. In most cases the seller would be happy and in some maybe not so much.

I don’t know if the new owners have children or if they are young or old. I wonder if the mortar and brick and the sheetrock and paint have absorbed the emotions, happy and sad, of the fifty years that our family lived and died within those walls. I wonder when they walk from room to room if they smile and don’t know why.

There is know way for them to know that the natural gas hook up in the corner of the den was the preplanning of the young couple that built that house. In 1973 when the freak blizzard in February dropped eighteen inches of snow over night in Macon, a young couple and their four small children were cuddled up and cozy in one room with a space heater while the rest of the area shivered for days with no electricity to power their furnaces.

I wonder if they have figured out what the hot and cold water supply is doing on the back porch in the middle of a brick wall. Will they ever guess that the young couple had a shower on the back porch so their two wild boys could strip down and wash the red Georgia clay off before they came inside the house.

They could never know that young ladies of dating age were sitting, ready and waiting, in their rooms upstairs while the father sat and stared without blinking or speaking at the sixteen year old boys who have come to take his daughters out on a date. Only after he was satisfied they had suffered enough would he take them to the bottom of the steps and call his daughters down (the younger brothers enjoyed watching this routine immensely).

Could the new owners ever know that at the porch window a young mother sat sewing clothes for her children wearing a tape measure and belt around her neck. The tape measure was for obvious reasons…the belt was to remind her boys there was no running in the house, which she could do without looking up or missing a stitch. I think she could take a fly out in midair and never look up.

And how could the new owners know that fifty years later one of those wild boys carried the lifeless bodies of that young couple out of that front door. They could never know any of these things…it’s just a house.

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EBB AND FLOW

Originally posted on deepthinker52:

I wanted to post this in appreciation of my sisters who knew long before I did what path my life should follow. Thank you for your love and guidance. Thank you for believing in me when I could see nothing to believe in myself. This was originally posted November 2012.

>In and out …In and out. I lay here at night and listen the soft comforting sound of my fathers breathing. In and out. What a sweet sound to my ears. It is not unlike the sounds of the sea , the tide flowing .In and out There is no rattle in his breathing even though he is on hospice care.

Actually he is in pretty darn good physical condition except for his Parkinson’s that he has fought for the last twenty-six years.But just the word hospice brings a feeling of finality that one would rather not have to accept…

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EBB AND FLOW

EBB AND FLOW.

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Together

We have several husband and wife couples at the facility where I work. I work at a nursing home. It is the most rewarding and gratifying task I have ever performed. To have the opportunity to restore dignity and self esteem to these people is an honor and a privilege I do not take lightly. But I would like to tell you about one couple in particular.

The husband was a big man. A “mans man ” some might say. He was retired military and a veteran of the Korean war. Regardless of the care we had to give him, and some of it was very painful, we never left his room without him whispering in a weak, hoarse voice…thank you Eddie.

His wife was equally gracious. I assisted her to bed one night and told her she was light on her feet, like a dancer. She smiled and said that dancing was one of her and her husbands favorite things. I imagined they were a striking couple. Both tall with beautiful smiles and quiet, unassuming, yet overwhelming personalities.

The husband died this past Saturday. The wife just a few hours later.

I can not help but smile when I think about them. I imagine that while the wife was taking her last breath the husband was standing right there over the bed with his hand out, pulling her out of the bed and her tired body into an embrace that they both have been waiting to share for a long time.

I imagine she laid her head on his chest and smiled while he spun her round and round the way he did so many years ago. I wonder if they were announced when they walked into heaven hand in hand as Mr and Mrs…

And I feel like I can almost hear him as they walk away, looking back over his shoulder with his arm around his young beautiful wife, say in a strong but tender voice…Thank you Eddie…

You’re so very welcome friend.

Posted in end of life care giving | 21 Comments

My Last Hero

It was hot but we didn’t seem to notice. There was the laughter of children, the smell of good food, and the eager greetings of family and friends filling the air. Once a year our family gathers. There was roughly one hundred people that have been waiting a year for this event. Some have been planning and working for that year to host this reunion and they did an absolutely wonderful job.

Unfortunately, I live to far away to help. I would have loved the opportunity to cut my uncles yard on a riding lawn mower. I owe him something from last year involving a Crepe Myrtle tree. My uncle and my father are the only two men I have known in my life that personified, in every way, what a man should be and how he should carry and present himself.

If you have read anything I have written then you know what high regard I have for my father and his twenty six year battle with Parkinson’s. Now let me introduce you to my uncle.

He is a retired life long soldier. He has walked through hell and came out the other side wounded and battered but standing tall and straight. He is the kind of man movies are made of, books are written about, and fathers tell their sons about. If you knew nothing about his past and just met him he has the presence and aura that makes you wonder…there is something special about this man.

He is covered with wounds and battle scars…some you can see…some you can not. But just like my father and his battle I have never once heard a ” why me”. He, like so many of his generation, are the personification of what it means to be a gentleman. A trait that seems to be withering away among young men.

He is my last living hero. I have been in awe of this man from my earliest memories. The only reason I jumped out of airplanes was because he did. Tell me…how much do you have to love and respect some one that you would jump out of an airplane simply because he did?

There is absolutely no way I could ever grasp the intensity of the life he has lived.

There is also no way he could know how much of a positive effect he has had on, not just mine, but so many young men’s lives.

He is Command Sergeant Major Michael Deeb….and I am honored and humbled to know him.

His awards:

Silver Star

Bronze Star ( x 5..yes 5.. 3w/ valor )

5 Overseas Service Bars

8 Service Stripes

Air Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Army Commendation Medal w/ Oak Leaf Cluster

Army Of Occupation Medal

Combat Infantry Badge

Master Parachutist Badge

Meritorious Service Medal

National Defense Medal w/ Oak Leaf Cluster

Vietnam Cross Of Gallantry

Vietnam Service Medal w/Silver Star

He also recently received a letter of commendation from the US Congress thanking him for his service.

On this Memorial Day I want you to know I love you….and thank you

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The Run

 Since his retirement every day began the same way. He would wake before the sun rose, put on his running shoes and shorts, and was out the door. He loved this time of the day above all others. The world was still asleep or groggy at best. He had the road to himself and was completely alone…almost.

Leaving the house with him religiously was his running partner Trooper, a beautiful eight year old German Shepherd. There was some discussion as to which one actually took the other running everyday but this has been their routine ever since he had adopted Trooper from the shelter when he retired.

Their route never varied. They would run to his brothers house who lived seven miles away down a rarely traveled country road. Once there he would sit down and have a glass of orange juice and visit for a few minutes. He would then call his wife to tell her he was on his way back. This was done so that she wouldn’t worry. After all he was almost seventy now.

She was just finishing her first cup of coffee when the phone rang right on time. “Ok you’re on your way back?” was the way she always answered the phone. This time it wasn’t her husband.

She was told by her brother-in-law that he was going out to get the morning paper when he found him. He told her he was laying face down at the top of the driveway. Trooper had laid his head in the small of his back and that when he saw him he started whining. The ambulance was called but there was apparently no need to hurry. The doctor said it was a massive heart attack and that he never felt the concrete kiss his cheek when he fell. He was dead before he hit the ground.

The family gathered immediately. We spent the night with Mom trying to console her for this was exactly how Daddy had said he wanted to die so many times, ” dead before I hit the ground.”

The next morning was painful especially for Mom because her routine had always been structured around that phone call. Just as she was telling us that this was the time the phone would ring…it did. You could here the sharp intake of breath as we all gasped wide eyed at each other and then the phone.

I picked up the phone to the sound of my uncle trying to stifle his sobs. I listened and just answered OK. Turning to face my mom and siblings I didn’t know how to say this but somehow I managed. ” When I got up this morning I let Trooper out to use the bathroom. I put on the coffee and everybody was getting up… well..I forgot about him. That was Uncle Mike on the phone. He said when he went to get his paper this morning…Trooper was laying in the same spot he found him yesterday…whimpering.

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