Sunday, 9 September 2012

Thank you God for Marie...

Seniors too often are left alone by their families, their friends have passed on, and much too many are ignored, forgotten, and deemed insignificant. I had the great priviledge of meeting a most beautiful and intellectual 83 year old lady named Marie. A former Windsor nurse, born and raised in Quebec, Marie is worldly, wise and yet alone. To see her, you sense a physical beauty of days gone-by, now nicely manicured into a rather classic, refined vintaged grace.She wishes her hair color maintained in a brown hue, but underneath lies white sheemered locks that provide an elegance suited to her. Her smile radiates through the bluest aquamarine eyes, eyes that at times depict a sadness hovering beneath the twinkle. A familiar sadness that I have witnessed in every senior encountered, as if it naturally follows with old age. I feel a bit of this meloncholy even at 57, having felt wanted and useful when I was a teacher and mother of a baby boy. At times I wonder if I'm even remembered for the role I've played in this world. To be 83, no longer a nurse, a wife or mother, Marie's sorrow stems from the same branch as mine, wondering what will become of us if we no longer hold a role or function in this world. I suppose like most women, we underestimate our beauty, our potential, our purpose, which so blatantly contradicts how others see us.
Marie was no doubt the nurse that went the extra mile, cared beyond the call of duty, intervened at injustice, and shared her gentle gift of compassion more vehemently with the undesirables.
We have spent quite a few hours over the last few months exchanging stories and memories.Marie is healthy, strong, eats well, holds faith above all else, yet chooses to be alone as so many do. Her story is rich in love, hardship, and wisdom. If only I had time at my disposal, her and I could become long lasting friends. I think of Marie everyday, dismayed that the world doesn't see her. Oh what a story teller, a gifted intellectual, a woman of profound faith, a devout caregiver, a witty, vibrant, intropective human being.
I unexpectedly stopped by to say hello one day, and as I walked up her driveway, over the waist high brick column I could see she faced away, her floppy hat shielding her from the heat of day. So many questions attacked my senses. Was she lonely? Why is no one venturing to her door? What is she thinking about? How does she feel? She needs a pet, a friend, family close by. Is she afraid being alone? She should never be alone. She has so much to offer. I will be a friend. How can one not be, once you've met her?
I was so happy to see her, and she felt the same. Could I be so lucky to have Marie in my life corner? The good Lord has graced by life with such rich blessings, and even now in retirement, He continues to look out for me. When I was a little girl, I seemed to forever gravitate toward the elderly in the neighborhood. For some reason, they embraced me as their own and it made me feel so loved, and in turn, I loved them. Today, as my life becomes full circle, it is still the old soul that I gravitate toward, and they toward me. I am comforted, valued and cherished by the Maries' of this world, and I hope they know the immense gratitude I feel...and the mutual adoration I have for them.

A new friendship for Pat and Catherine...

Since July 12, Catherine had fallen three times and subsequently landed a fractured sacrum, and a hairline crack to her hip. I found Catherine sitting in her chair awaiting my arrival. She could not move without experiencing excruciating pain. I thought it best she call her son while the ambulance took her to the hospital. Being very proud, Catherine insisted that her family not be informed. I sat in the emergency area with my old friend for more than 3 hours before a nurse could look in on her. Finally moved to triage, we waited another hour before a series of tests, x-rays, and scans could tell the damage ensued from her falls. I was heading out of town the following morning, and regrettably could not be with Catherine much longer, so once she was issued a room and comfortably sedated, 8 hours had passed, I bid sweet Catherine goodbye. I made the decision to call her son Paul, as I could not imagine Catherine lying alone in a strange hospital. No matter how proud or private she may be, she was someone's mother and deserved her children by her side. When I returned from the weekend, I would find Catherine lying alone and scared to death. There was immense sadness in her eyes, and a hopeless sense about her, believing this was her final curtain call. Of course, I had other plans for her. Visiting every day for 9 days, caring for this old gal seemed as though I was caring for my own mother, and couldn't imagine it any other way. Finally Catherine was discharged and moved to a respite care floor in the building she was living in. Convincing her to be hopeful was a rather difficult task, especially with the amount of pain she was living with. As time went on, I'd take Catherine for short visits up to her own suite, where we watered the plants, checked the mail and collected the newspapers. Eventually Catherine was allowed home, and much preparation had to be done to accommodate her fragile frame, and her weak sense of confidence. She unreasonably feared that her family would find her unfit, place her away somewhere where she would be robbed of the little bit of independence she had left. On the contrary, her sons managed to look in on her, which made all the difference in her recovery.
It was time for Catherine to meet other women her age. I planned a simple old fashioned lunch at our cottage on the lake, invited my dear friend Pat, while my endearing husband Thomas tagged along, as Catherine was quite smitten by his Italian charm! We laughed, opened gifts of friendship, ate a whole lot, and waterlogged ourselves on tea and lemon. Catherine and Pat were very much alike, both being over 75, and shared a great deal in common. Both had lost a sister, Pat's sister was murdered at 33, and Catherine's sister died of a brain tumor at 34, both leaving behind small children and a lingering sorrow shared. Within minutes they had become fast friends.Thomas made the girls giggle with his wit and jokes, and I had the pleasure and honour to dote on these remarkably courageous and classy women for the afternoon.
There is something fascinating happening in this little piece of universe surrounding my precious senior friends.. .something much bigger than us, much wiser, more powerful, that positions each of us alongside the other with an abundance of love. A love that will convince Catherine she has a long way before her days are done here, and that she deserves the attention of her family and friends.
Not that a higher power encouraged her falls, but without doubt made way for many to carry her through her healing, and convince those like Pat, Tom and I that we need a Catherine in our lives.