Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (15)
Jun 07, 2020
Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (15)
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
· Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of 58 years (June 10, 2019) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. Eileen died on February 22, 2020, the day following the birth of our latest granddaughter Maria, and the funeral was March 4, 2020. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time looking at the space in my life.
He ain’t heavy father, he’s my brother
06/07/2020 The necessity to reach out and help one I have loved all my life is a wonderful gift to help in the grieving process. I have no time to grieve, as the living pain of another is more present than the internal feeling of loss, and it is of far greater importance to nurture one of the living than to live in the past. To give to another like this pulls one out from feeling sorry for one-self and presents another who is in greater pain and needs loving, firm and gentle support, right now, not when I might feel ready.
I drove on Tuesday to just the other side of Cleveland, Ohio, (about 400 miles) to help my 91-year-old brother Tom reacclimate to living at home, out of the rehab he has been in for two months. He fainted and fell at home and received a concussion on April 1st, which happened to be the first year anniversary of his wife’s death. They then discovered he had pneumonia and with the fact that the pandemic was here, that prevented him from the normal human interaction that should have been there, leaving him with only the interaction of a few nurses and phone calls, when social interaction has always been the lynch-pin of Tom’s life. I had been calling Tom every day during this time.
The past few days have seen a great change in him. He could barely move when we arrived Tuesday eve, the day of his discharge, and was in deep depression. After much cajoling we got him to start to move around using a walker. He has lost much of his hearing, and also much of his eyesight, so that he has great difficulty hearing and seeing. I have my friend with me who is health-system-savvy, and we found out that the health-aid system had failed Tom as they had no plans to do anything more after discharge, except for some vague thought of physical therapy, but we have heard nothing, much to the disgust of the rehab nurses. But Tom needs, for now, 24-hour care, which we think will soon be reduced to meals and other support such as bathing, pills, and just human companionship, on each day for some time. A nurse will come in on Monday and do an evaluation and recommend what can be obtained, with insurance and what can be paid for in the form of helpers, nurses aids, etc. There is several organizations that we can get support persons to be present as much as needed.
Much has improved since we have been here. After only a few days he now goes outside in his lovely yard for short visits, even though a walker must be used at all times at present; he walks around the house several times a day, and is starting to regain the strength he will need in the future. He is often greatly discouraged, as reading is his great joy, and not being able to read is crushing. His house, though small, is filled with beautiful artworks and lovely mementoes of their travels. Tom has written several books on his work with the young people coming out of prison, as he was one of the first if not the first to establish group homes for those young people suffering much abuse and getting into trouble back in the 1960’s. Yes, they had all, and I mean all, been abused when young, both female and male. He has marvelous tales to tell, and it is wonderful to hear him talk about his past.
We have been able to bring him back from deep depression and probably fatal sense of loss to where we are starting to banter and joke about life. His wonderful sense of humor is beginning to surface. Maybe his remaining eye can be repaired, but the problem is if he goes ahead with the surgery (the one eye is already blind from glaucoma) the potential for failure is fairly high, and he would be totally blind. That is the problem and the decision he is wrestling with at this time.
We plan on staying for another week or so, depending on the evaluation, aids we talk with, and all factors involved. This coming week has much profound impact, as on June 10 Eileen and I would have been married 59 years, but I will be in Ohio, working to give Tom the aid he needs to be able to continue in this phase of his life. Life is good, giving me pathways to help others which in turn are life-giving in seeing the wonders of life, even if half of me seems to be gone, but life and the beauty of life continue. Life can have beautiful windows, even when the clouds may be thick, the sun is still there, shining brightly.
Gentle One, You give me strength beyond anything I can imagine. You brought the pain in life in my family to my center of attention, so that I can continue to live life to the fullest, one step at a time. I have the wonderous opportunity to bring life to my brother, who has been brought low by so many things, but is now showing the possibilities of more life, one day at a time, for as long as it is. I bow in profound gratitude for this chance to live life again.