Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Memorial for another Memory Unit Resident

Gary's Hospice Social Worker called me on Wednesday.  "Ada, how are you doing?"  I've heard that question before from a friend.  The implications are the same. The real statement/question is:  "Gary is declining rapidly and we all see it, but do you?  If you don't see it, you need to and if you do see it, are you coping with it?"  It would be a lot easier if they just asked the real question.

I had surgery on Thursday and am on restricted movement....can't lift more than 10 pounds and am enjoying pain killers.  I helped Heather (she did all the work)with a garage sale this morning and then went to see Gary. 

As I entered the Assisted Living Portion of the building, I saw the tell tale wreath of flowers and the framed picture of one of Gary's neighbors.  Ron has lived there since before Gary moved in.....he died on Thursday.  The caregivers had transformed his room into a memorial of his life.  The man was a gifted song writer.....I never knew.  I have seen him every week for over a year and only saw the man who was trapped in a demented shell.  I never thought of the family and 50 year wife portrayed in his life pictures.  I guess when Gary dies, many may feel the same of him.  They never knew the man I know and loved. 

Yes, I said "loved".  Other than the body that remains, the man I loved is gone.  Today, I was informed that yesterday Hospice put him on mechanical food since he has been falling asleep mid-chew during most meals. They served him soup, chicken and biscuits and green beans....chopped fine.  I fed him all of it.  He ate every bite and stayed awake.

After lunch, I moved him into his room which currently houses only him.  No roommate.  They have all died.  I'm sure there will be another person there soon as there are SO many needing care.  The other half of his room seems so barren and symbolic of the life that remains there.  Serene and austere. Such a contrast of what the old Gary would have wanted. 

I trimmed his beard and moustache very short.  I clipped his nails and tried very hard not to hurt the atrophied hand that used to be his primary.  While I was trimming his beard, I noticed the cord was getting tighter and harder to maneuver.  Gary was holding it with his good hand and had an incredible grip on the cord. I pried it out of his hands and finished the project.  He still looks handsome despite the dreaded FTD stare.  If only he could wake up and say one more "Thank you, Babes."  I know that I will never again hear his voice. 

I wheeled him back into the living area and kissed him on the cheek to say goodbye.  I told him that I have bought a new house and will be moving soon and that I needed to go as I have a lot to do.  I touched his good hand and immediately, he applied a grip of a man who knew someone there loved him.  I realized that I had nothing more important to do.  I sat there until his grip loosened and he fell asleep.  I knew he would be put to bed soon, so I kissed his cheek and told him that I love and miss him.

As I drove from the building, I cried a warm tear.  Only one.  I'm sad but don't seem to have any more tears for now.

Pray not for me but for him.  May his passage to his Lord's house be peaceful, sweet and painless.

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