Most of this week, I've been able to spend with two beautiful friends. Shawn, who's been battling breast cancer this year, and her sacrificial best friend, Brenda. We've shared how our "life altering" experiences have been a blessing in so many ways. It's been a time to give love and to receive love. Shawn's experienced such love from so many people during this time. These gifts of love have brought her such an awareness that now has sparked in her to give love. And in an inexplicable way, the more love that has been given out....the more love has been returned exponentially. It's amazing how these experiences bring networks of friends and supporters that carry us through. Shared experiences. Like minds. Commonalities.
I've met with most of the hospice angels now. This is another network that radiates love. Interestingly enough, Jerry has improved in the last few weeks. He has started eating again, looks a bit less weak and is even standing up a little straighter. Since I don't go visit every day, I rely on aide reports. I've heard that one day he is "spot on" and the next day he sleeps all day. On off on off....up down up down...such is the life of the Alzheimer patient.
Last Sunday, when I arrived, I saw his former hospice chaplain sitting on the front porch. He's a gentle soul with a huge smile and firm voice, who truly called to this line of service. We chatted for moment and then I went back to get Jerry while he got his computer set up.
Some things have changed since Jerry was last on hospice. DOCUMENTATION. The new medicare guidelines require multiple questions to be asked and documented while in the presence of the patient. These new rules and little laptops get in the way of having an intimate and personal visit. Just a tad annoying. It's feels like more of an interview...so get ready for that. Hopefully, this is just a learning curve getting use to the new computers and guidelines.
Thankfully, Jerry was assigned to the same hospice workers as the last time. It was like "old home" week. (No pun intended.) Miss Penny, the social worker, happened to arrive at the same time, so we all had a really nice time getting reacquainted around the table. Several attempts were made at communicating with Jerry. "Roll Tide." "Go Alabama." Hoping to spark some deeply embedded memory from long ago. We were only met with blank stares and questioning eyes towards me. In spite of his look, I could sense his calmness about his being with them though. Mostly, we chatted about his current condition and peppered the conversation with the frustrations of documenting. Our visit lasted about 45 minutes.
Here's the really neat part. At the end, "Mr. Chaplain" said he'd like to read a scripture. Lovingly, he turned to Ephesians and with his gentle voice, and great conviction, read the passage. After reading he told us a story of how he was visiting with a gravely ill blind man recently and asked him, "How can I pray for you?" The man sat there a few minutes, then said, "Just pray as if you love me." We all need to feel loved. Then, he directly asked Jerry, "Jerry. May I pray with you?" All of a sudden, coming out of his silence, Jerry leaned forward, slowly moved his hand into the chaplain's hand and said, "That would be nice."
There is no greater love than this.