This picture is from our daughter’s dance marathon at UNC. It was a fundraiser for UNC Children’s Hospital. Jerry was holding her up off her feet after she was nearing 24 hours. Recently I listened to a broadcast on caregiving. The guest speaker’s voice quivered as she spoke of her father and the honor she felt of caring for him who had cared for her. One of my coping mechanisms, I suppose, has been to suck it up and take control of the situation. But, when the "business of caring for him” is put aside, I come face to face with the real motive of caring for Jerry. In this society where beauty, youthfulness, and serial relationships are held in such high regard, it is important to me to honor him in a way that shows him he is still loved and valued. To hold him up to the very end of this marathon is a God given privilege and joy to my heart.
The "phone call”, is always in the back of my mind. About 7:00 am on Monday, my phone rang. I saw the caller ID. It from Jerry’s home. “Oh no, I thought.” Quickly, I picked it up. Jerry had fallen when he stood up in the shower. It was his first fall. I’ve known that frequent falls are a part of this disease as the patient begins to lose balance in the late stages. I’ve seen the results of falls by other patients. These frail bodies bruise so easily. The Med Tech assured me that he was fine but wanted me to know. I rushed up to see for myself. Thankfully, he only had a bruised leg and a bruise on his left rib and buttocks. Interestingly enough, he doesn’t remember the fall at all.
Today, when I arrived in the afternoon. He was being bathed by the hospice CNA. He’s a squeaky clean little thing. Peeking through the door, I could see his frail body sitting on the shower seat while she was gently scrubbing his back and talking to him. I stayed out of sight so he would not try to get up and come to me. I went over and sat on his bed across from all the pictures on the wall. Most of his life was pretty much summed up in these photos. Tall and stately in his pin striped suit, indicating a successful business man, the hugs of all his children revealing his being a loving father, his mother, his best friend from kindergarten, and BEAR BRYANT. Lots of laughs! What a great life! I thought....all of this life reduced to this....
When the hospice CNA brought Jerry out, she directed him over to me, said, “Jerry. Who’s that over there?” His eyes didn’t see me for a few minutes, but when they did......”Ohhhh, thank you....” He came to me with opened arms. His eyes lit up mine. His smile made me smile. It was worth more than gold!