Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gratitude through the Storm

My Nanny (my mother's mom) sewed at a machine much like this. Heavy old machine with treadle disabled but still in place. Someone at sometime added an electric motor to it.

We lost her in October a few years ago. I should reword that. We actually lost her in March of that same year. We lost her to something called Calcification Brain Atrophy. Her brain started turning to stone. The disease mimics the symptoms of Alzheimers but progresses very quickly.

I spent hours at the hospital really late at night. I drove the miles between my home and the hospital late and in the dark. I was exhausted and it was horrible to see her restrained to a bed and not know even who she was much less who we were. But I gladly went and spent time there.

I have had opportunity to spend time with her as she was dying and with Mama Norvan and Grandma and Grandpa Simpson (my husband's grandparents). Each experience was different, each called me to exert different emotions and express my service to them in myriad ways. With Mama Norvan - she was alert and we shared things with each other right up until the end. She was funny and calm and ready to meet the Precious Lord she adored. We sang and we read the Bible and we shared. It was one of my most beautiful experiences. Grandma Simpson was reserved and quiet and we did not share very much but that was her nature. Grandpa Simpson needed physical care, care that with the wrong attitude would have been humiliating and demeaning for him. Hospice was there, but I felt that some of it needed to be our responsiblility. I loved him for his wisdom and integrity and it was a priviledge to care for him at the end. Then Nanny, she screamed and moaned and was physically violent at times. She was almost like an animal caged and ferocious at times. The only thing that could be done was restraint and sedation. It was horrible to watch the strong woman I knew from my childhood deteriorate in that way. But it was the disease that caused it. And I did not retreat from the time I spent there with her.

Even at the end she held on to her faith. One night as I was there- I started softly singing the hymns of my faith - and she quieted and listened. I spent that night leaned over the rail on her bed singing and crying as I realized that we would never have her back. I had a co-worker (read that best friend) who was wise enough to say nothing at times - but who was always there - and supported me in quiet ways. He let me know that I did not always have to be the strong one. If I needed to talk he just listened. As I made decisions, he was my sounding board and gave me well thought out advice if I asked. I want to thank him for that. I want to thank him for giving me the knowledge that I could call at any time. Thank him for taking the time to really listen to me and hear the between the lines stuff every one is afraid to say out loud. Thanks for the knowledge that tears were not a sign of weakness. Thanks for not trying to stop the tears when they started. Thanks for bringing lunch and a coke with ice and a straw because I needed to rest instead of running around at lunch. Thanks for allowing laughter to be a part of the process even if others thought it inappropriate Thanks for teaching me more about being a real friend.

Those deaths were hard. But every challenge was met with the strength to go on. Strength that often came from an unknown place. There were so many people who help hold us up at each turn. There were those who came behind and helped us pick up the pieces. There were those who laughed with us, cried with us, cooked for us, were just there when we needed to hold a hand. I thank them all.

The point of this post. I have seen calls for caring in blogland of late. I know of many people in my day to day life who need my caring. Reach out for those people. Take the time to give a little or a lot of yourself for them. Don't run from the effort it may take to answer a need. It will be hard in some cases or this may be easy for you. Sharing in hardship is a heavy load. Remember that it may seem heavy or even impossible to you. But just imagine how heavy it is for the one enduring the pain. Your effort can lighten that load enough for them to rest a little or to have a bit of reprieve from the storm around them. Sometimes all it takes is knowing that someone cares.

If you are in need of that caring, by all means, reach out. There is absolutely no reason to try to carry a burden by yourself. People do care and will help if they know there is a need. There is no weakness in accepting help from those who would really love to give it.

I am celebrating the lives of those who have gone before me today. I am expressing gratitude for an opportunity to serve them in someway as they lived their last days. I am expressing gratitude for those who helped ease my load through all of my trials. I am expressing gratitude for those who have allowed me the priviledge of helping them in large and small ways as they endured storms.

I am a blessed woman.

I wish blessings on each of you. Have a beautiful day.


Josephine said...

This is a heart-wrenching peice as well as heart-warming in so many ways.

I know what you mean, I think. I consider it one of my best attributes that I know how to be with someone when they are severely ill, in a state of dimentia, or dying. Growing up, I had about 25 elderly people to whom I was often called to support in their times of need.

I am so thankful I learned how to do that, it is a blessing, you are right.

lalheg said...

My heart - with you