Tuesday, March 4, 2014

5/31 My Slice of Life every Monday

Thanks to those at the TwoWritingTeachers blog for this challenge. 

         For those of you who’ve followed my blog for a long while, you know that my husband spent the last years of his life in a nursing home with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s disease.  It’s been six months since we said goodbye to him, and I miss him every day. This post is not exactly about him, but about the wonderful place where he stayed, my slice of life on Mondays. It isn’t a fancy place, but oh, the care and love he was given there, and that I received from the staff as well was awesome.   A couple of months ago I began volunteering in the part of the home where he lived. 



          I know the patients and the staff, and feel a loving part of that world because it was my home too for a part of every day since 2012. I am not intimidated by the sometimes-odd behavior, and there are few others who do come to visit. I’ve been a teacher for so many years that there aren’t many things which happen very different from a classroom.  The patients have seen me a lot and welcome me just like my students did. Oh, they don’t dash up to talk, but their eyes light up, and they smile when I show up. In the past, when I visited with my daughter and granddaughter, it was like a celebration to the patients. Everyone wanted to have attention!
My granddaughter visiting her Grandpa!
          I stay for a few hours to help serve lunch. I move through the dining room as quickly as I can, spreading tablecloths, setting out glasses and cutlery, ready for juice, milk and coffee. I spend time serving the plates of food and yummy desserts (always a favorite of everyone). I make a big deal out of those desserts, pointing them out, and maybe I’ll do it more than once, because some forget about them. I walk around, smiling, giving hugs, asking if a certain person needs anything, pouring more juice, more coffee. I cannot feed anyone because that is a special task only for staff, but I can cut the food which needs cutting. I can put a spoon or a fork into someone’s hand, and ask if they’re enjoying the food. Some don’t answer, but others are happy to talk about the lunch, and those are also so polite and happy to say thank you.  They are living their lives just as all of us are, and I’m trying to offer smiles and hugs and shoulder squeezes, something everyone loves.  
        A friend posted the following story on Facebook last week because her friend has recently placed her husband with Alzheimer’s in a home.  In my experience, I did have more than one person ask me if there was a point to visiting my husband because he didn’t know me, or wouldn’t know them if they visited.  I love my volunteering. It is a giving back to those who cared for my husband with both professionalism and love. It doesn’t matter if some patients don’t remember me. I remember them.


       "I will always remember the story about the man who was at the doctor's office and told the doctor he had to leave to have lunch with his wife. The doctor said, "But she doesn't know you," and the man said "But I know her".

51 comments:

  1. Linda, what a thoughtful thing to continue after your husband's death. I'm sure that your smiles, shoulder squeezes, and hugs brighten everyone's day, such a gift of yourself and your time.

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    1. Thanks Ramona, I am happy that I can give the time, and it's such a pleasure.

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  2. We remember them. That's what is important. Thank you for sharing something so special.

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    1. You're welcome. It's a good part of my life on Mondays.

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  3. You are giving back in such an important way. Your husband would feel honored to know what you are doing. Giving has such rewards. I bet they all help you heal each time you go there. Beautiful, heartfelt piece. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

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    1. You're welcome, Wanda. It is a good thing for me, and I hope for them too.

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  4. Your last line sums it up pretty perfectly and reminds me that what we do for others, helps us heal and be whole. WE know in OUR hearts that what we do makes a difference. It's kind of like the random acts of kindness program. I am SURE that seeing you puts smiles on faces and joy in hearts.

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    1. Thanks Anita. I did the RAK Program with my students for years, such a lovely thing. I hope the students continued!

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  5. That last line speaks volumes. I think that visiting with these folks is a gift. For you and for them. Thanks for sharing that with us.

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    1. Thanks, Katherine. You summed it up very well!

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  6. Such a beautiful slice of memory and experience, and a reminder of how we all have to look after each other in this world.
    Kevin

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    1. Thanks Kevin. Yes, we do need to care for each other!

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  7. What a beautiful story/quote at the end. You are so strong and beautiful! In missing posting so much this past year, I did not know that your husband had passed away. I recall your slices about his illness and about your love. I am so sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thanks Dana, it was a difficult last summer, and he passed early September. I appreciate your remembering.

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  8. I will remember this: "I will always remember the story about the man who was at the doctor's office and told the doctor he had to leave to have lunch with his wife. The doctor said, "But she doesn't know you," and the man said "But I know her".
    This is the most terrifying disease I know and I love reading about your experiences with it Linda and this support you offer.
    Glad I know you :)

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    1. Thanks Bonnie, love your saying you will remember. That's the point of my sharing, too. I'm glad to know you too!

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  9. Giving back fills your heart with joy, but yet I'm sure it is only a fraction of the joy your recipients feel. I will always keep the memory of that ending close.

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    1. Thanks Elsie, it's an important lesson to learn, about ourselves & about others.

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  10. Even when you have written about your experience as a visitor and a volunteer in the nursing home already, you can return to the same topic over and over, reminding people about life, memory and kindness.

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    1. You're right Terje, might be part of who am I am, don't you think? Thanks for the response.

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    2. Yes, it is part of who you are. I am glad I met you (virtually but still) and your words enrich my life.

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  11. I have thought about you and your Mondays, Linda. That last quote says it all, doesn't it? Your presence and company is a gift - and that photograph is a gift, too.

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    1. Thanks Tara. It is a good thing, these Mondays. It is one of the reasons I wanted to share about them.

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  12. I've been wondering about how your husband has been doing. You are a gift, Linda, not only to your husband but to your community. I can understand if you love someone, why wouldn't you visit them even though they don't know you? Love goes a long way. Thanks for sharing your continuing story--good for us, good for you. Take care.

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    1. Thanks Tam. It makes me happy that so many of you are "hearing" the message I want to give. I appreciate it very much.

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  13. Linda, how special you are to each one of these people. They may not remember you from week to week, but they so enjoy having someone talk with them, give them a hug or a smile, or just spend a moment with them. I know in your giving to them, you receive so much more back in return. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

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    1. Thanks Judy. No, being in the moment is what I've learned well these past months, & it is always a joy.

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  14. What a blessing you are to all those people. That last quote really touched me. That is so true. We know and love them.

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    1. Thank you Beverley. They are a pleasure for sure.

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  15. I love your story -- your dedication to your husband, to the nursing home, to the caregivers, to the patients who were his community, and to his memory. I also love the story you shared from Facebook. Isn't that the truth? Sometimes, it's actually about us. Blessings to you, friend.

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    1. Hi Jen. I haven't seen your post in a while. There are so many that I can't find everyone. I'll look again! Thank you for your kind comment.

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  16. Linda, this story is a gift. Last year we both discovered that we have loved ones in nursing homes with Parkinson's. My ex-husband is in hospice in a nursing home and I have continued to be his friend and advocate. I am glad that you have been able to work in his final home. I am sure you are very welcome and I know that giving our gifts is a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing, Linda. You are an inspiration.

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    1. I hope you'll share via e-mail when and if you need to Deborah. I do remember, but since you haven't said too much, I thought it was too private. I hope you and he are okay, and finding the care that he needs. It was so important, and this place was exceptional. Thank you!

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  17. A post like this makes me wish that Denver were a lot closer than it is to Hartford. Your last line brought me to tears, and I'm not often there. What an incredibly beautiful thing to remember when we think about the time that we spend with the people we love who don't remember like we wish that they would. Thank you so much for this post.

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    1. You are welcome, Melanie. I appreciate your response, and am happy that it meant something. Hugs to you!

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  18. This was beautiful, dear Linda. I feel humbled each time you tell this story of volunteering and changing people's lives there, and importantly allowing yourself to be moved. You are constantly inspiring. For that and much more, thank you.

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    1. You're welcome, Suparna. I'm happy that you liked the story.

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  19. I’m certain that the smiles, hugs and shoulder squeezes you give are not just loved but desperately needed. Thanks for sharing your Monday story with us!

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  20. The iPad is not being very cooperative when it comes to commenting. Had a lttle trouble last night with it. Your volunteering reminds me of the families that volunteer at Give Kids the World after they too have been blessed with care--your work and sharing is such a light for me. Thank for the remembering and the lesson in love.

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    1. I don't know about that organization, Lee Ann. Thanks for telling me, will look it up. Thanks for commenting, even with the struggle!

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  21. Oh dear Linda, I had no idea. I am so sorry for your loss and for those tough years as your husband (and you and your loved ones) suffered from this awful disease. How very sad. But clearly, you are a strong and wonderfully caring woman. You are amazing to channel your sorrow into something so positive. I liked you before but, wow, do I like you now! My warmest wishes, and thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thank you Iza for your warm reply. It is a pleasure to do this small act.

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  22. Sorry I missed this yesterday Linda. It's a sweet story. I think it is wonderful that you are willing and able to continue to help out at the nursing home. My husband works as the admissions coordinator at a nursing home so I know how much the staff appreciates good help! What a nice way for you to give back to a place that gave to your family.

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    1. Thanks, Robin, I missed this comment until today. I appreciate it, and hearing about your husband. I'm sure he understands the message very well!

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  23. Linda, This has been a crazy rough week for me and somehow I missed this beautiful, beautiful post. It's a special gift, I think, to be willing to go and love people in a situation like this, and I'm not sure I could ever do what you do. The last line made me cry.

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    1. It's okay, Carol. I know that you are busy, and appreciate all the response from you no matter when. Thank you!

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  24. What a heart-filled post. Your ending, " It doesn’t matter if some patients don’t remember me. I remember them," is so beautiful. It makes me feel wonderful that there are people like you, who care so much. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome, Kam. It is an important part of my life, and a pleasure. Thanks for going back to read this one!

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