Happy Thanksgiving. It has been a long while since I have posted here - I could try to make some excuses, but that seems futile so let me just share a little of the past few months.
There are always stories to share from my hospice work. I think about someone that I visited in the hospital several weeks ago. This elderly man did not have any family in the area, and the hospital had been in contact with a nephew who lives in another state. He had not even seen or heard from his uncle for years, yet he was the only living relative. The uncle was barely verbal and not very responsive. The nurse told me that she believed that he was saying a prayer when she went to check on him.
I am always mindful and cautious of prayers that I might say at a bedside when I don't know the beliefs or the wishes of the patient. But, this time, I felt a strong desire to share with him. So I talked a little, and then I prayed for him. When I finished, he started to make noise like he was saying words. I waited, and waited. When he seemed to be done, not knowing at all what he said, I simply said, God, hear our prayers. And very clearly, he repeated, God, hear our prayers. So the next day, I took my IPOD and speaker with me when I visited. I played a couple of Christian old-time hymns and then I played, The Lord's prayer. As it played, he was saying every word. God heard his prayers...and I found out later, he died a few hours later.
The second story - I walked into the building today with a gentleman who looked very tired. I started a conversation and heard him say, "it's not a good day, my wife is dying." I was so struck by that - I have said that I didn't have a good day when I had a cold, it was raining outside, waited for the cable guy too long, or the service at a restaurant was slow.
Friday is National Day of Listening. It was started by StoryCorps in 2008. Each year, on the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks all Americans to take an hour to record an interview with a loved one. It's one of the least expensive, but most meaningful, gifts you can give your loved ones this holiday season! This year, the emphasis is on teachers, but it can be done for any loved one. You can find out more information at nationaldayoflistening.org
The 2011 National Day of Listening takes place on Friday, November 25, 2011. Instead of getting lost in Black Friday's long shopping lines, get lost in a conversation with a loved one!
I think of the gift it would be if I had a recording from my mom, dad, and so many others. Working with hospice, I am acutely aware of the importance of sharing what gives your life meaning with those you love and those that love you.
A brief update of life in general: I was in Indiana in October for my niece, Jennifer's wedding. It was an outdoor wedding on a beautiful but very cold autumn day. The leaves had not changed much, but I loved the cool temperatures. Connie and I went back to Indiana in early November so I got a good taste of fall in the Midwest.
I continue to work on the weekends and make a lot of hospital visits, home and nursing home visits, and take calls when patients are dying. I have been working at the inpatient unit - my heart is there and I love being able to spend time there.
We have moved into the modern age and now have a DVR - so I have been finding things at all hours of the night and day to record. And I love the Fast Forward button...when I can remember to use it. I am still a Starbucks junkie and read all that I can. Life is good - I still have moments of missing the old and familiar life- and I still feel very blessed by the work that I do.
I am thankful for family, friends, warm beds, hot showers, food, shelter, employment, memories, email, sunsets, music, faith, books, freedom, hope, love, and a non-fat, pumpkin spice, extra-hot chai!
Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful and share it!