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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lessons from the Dying

I've wondered over the past few days just exactly what I would do with Wednesday's post. What I came up with was--Nothing. Why? I usually have a lot to say, some say I have too much to say, I have nothing... but I will offer the following observations for my Wednesday post.

I have spent the past 6 years watching my in-laws die. I would spend my time visiting my Father-in-law when he lived in the home; using that time to help him with the "this and thats" of every day life. Time to sort his Medicines. Time to take him shopping or go over the weeks menu selections. Time to watch a Suns Basketball game on the Television (that's when he would "SCREAM at the TV!").

As he aged and his body and mind became weaker my time was spent there with him. I was there to help him through the transition from Assisted Living to the Nursing Home, and then I found that I couldn't find the time as easily. I found that I wasn't comfortable being there with him. It was if we had transferred him to die and I struggled internally with this thought. I had spent time visiting my Mother in-law at the same Nursing Home for a year or more prior to Pop's arrival and it never bothered me, but to watch such a fiercely independent man arrive at a place where he became dependent upon everyone for everything was heartbreaking. I know it wasn't so much the the home itself but the realization that my buddy would be moving on it was just a matter of time.

This week the journey of watching and spending my time ended. My Father in-law passed two years ago on Christmas Eve. My Mother in-law passed on the 9th this month. Both of my In-Laws were in their 80's when they passed. Immigrant Americans from Germany. They came over in the early 50's by boat and traveled from New York to Arizona by car as soon as they arrived.

They lived a full and vibrant life. They have been through, seen, and done things that most can never imagine.

So what have I learned on my watch? I'm glad I gave my time, other than that I wish I knew. I can tell you that the health care system needs fixing. I can tell you that some of the best and most caring people in the world work in the elder-care industry. I can tell you that Arizona, lacks greatly when it comes to caring for the elderly. I wish I could tell you more. I'm certain that the dying have lessons for all of us to learn.

I think they are lessons we see more clearly after time has passed on.

Schlaf gut, Omi

You have been given the ability to listen - do it. Go out and sit and listen to someone you care about.

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dethmama said...

My thoughts go out to you and your family. I hope that you are all managing well.

I truly understand your feelings about your father in law... I felt the same when my own father was in the nursing home with dementia. It was so hard to see him that way.

Anonymous said...

Dethmama, thanks. I really struggle with my inability to go and be with him as often as I would have liked. I had the hardest time watching him deteriorate. I'm afraid that it made my visiting Omi over the past few years very, very difficult.

I did spend time with her at the end.