Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Singing in the Rain

Well we’ve reached week 10 and Su’s been doing well. We have our first prenatal appt. with our group of midwives on Friday which should be interesting. We are looking forward to it.

Tomorrow I get to perform in our Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) talent show. I’m going to bring my guitar and sing the old Leonard Cohen song called Suzanne. Rather fitting that I married a woman named Susanne eh? I think it’s perfect. We do a talent show at our agency every year to try and encourage people to give. I think most people who come to it have already given which makes it sort of “preaching to the choir” but it’s still fun. I’ve only every performed singing with my guitar once—at a church where I used to sing in a choir. I don’t feel nervous about the singing because that’s easy. But I’m not a great guitar player so as long as I can remember what chords to go to I’ll be okay.

After the show I have to dash out the door to go to a funeral. I’ve been a volunteer at Capital Hospice since 2004 and mostly what I do is get assigned to a person who is terminally ill and visit them once a week or so—whatever they desire—just to chat, spend time etc… It’s certainly not the kind of volunteer work that everybody would want to do, but for me I just feel that it’s such a gift to me to be able to share in someone’s life as they near “end of life”. When my dad died in 2002 a friend gave me a book called “Final Gifts” which was written by two hospice nurses about the journeys that their patients went on and it made so much sense to me. So I decided to become a volunteer.

Tomorrow I’ll attend the funeral of a woman I’ll call Mrs. M. I met her about 1 ½ years ago when she was first admitted to hospice (most hospice patients are still in their own homes as she was). To be in hospice you have to have decided to give up aggressive treatments to prolong life. Well, when I met Ms. M she was in hospice but then she and her two sons decided to start her on cancer treatments. Technically she was no longer in the hospice program (but could come back to it at any time,) and I was faced with the choice of going on leave from the program to continue to visit her or to take on a new patient. I decided to stay. I had established a relationship with her and her family and it didn’t seem logical to me to just stop going to see her. She was still dying after all. I had neither idea how long she’s survive, nor whether her treatment were the best thing, but I completely respected her decision.

Her two sons who are in their 40s are saints in my mind. I’ve never seen such caring and devotion. It was beautiful. They took turns staying with her and taking her to appointments. Last spring they invited me to a wonderful surprise party they’d planned for her 76th birthday. She thought she was going to lunch with friends but she walked in to a ballroom packed with over 100 people who loved her. It was amazing. So many people told wonderful stories and her extended family all paraded from the back carrying 76 roses. Mrs. M was so tired but so thrilled. She spoke at the end and mixed in her memories, her advice, her thoughts and her pride for her family. Although I’ll attend her funeral tomorrow, I think she had the best eulogy ever that day 6 months ago. I really enjoyed visiting Ms. M. The stories she told me of growing up in the south. The day I asked her what the yellowed newspaper on her dresser was and she spent the next hour telling me all about how she’d been impaneled on a grand jury in the 1970s. There was even a photo in that newspaper with her and her colleagues being led furtively out of the courtroom. What stories she had!

Ms. M (who her family called Sugar) died when her two sons were taking her to the hospital last week. I’m going to miss her. -Monica

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