Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome Home Whitey!

Today I'm re-embarking on a wonderful adventure that began three years ago.  My neighbor and friend Whitey has Alzheimer's.  Shortly after I retired from UPS and upon our return from Newfoundland, Betty began calling occasionally to have me help with Whitey.  He'd slip out of his recliner and onto the floor and she'd need help getting him back up - things like that.  By December, I was over there four or five times a day.  He was losing his ability to walk and poor Betty was beside herself trying to give him the loving care she hoped to.

Any wife would have a hard time deciding his care was beyond her capacity; and so it was with Betty.  We shed a lot of tears and Betty struggled with such a conflicting decision.  Most Alzheimer's patients don't last as long as Whitey has.  The 2 1/2 years he was in the Care Center were fraught with seizures and other difficulties, but those have ceased and his care has become simpler as he is not at risk of injury as he's utterly unable to change positions, even in bed.  A couple of months ago, another woman in a similar situation suggested that Betty might now be able to bring her husband home.  She resisted.  But the notion began to grow and blossom into a possibility.  Betty was certain that she couldn't do it alone.

As we've compared notes; on the day that I felt inspired to quit seeking employment and stay home to write, Betty felt impressed to ask me to assist her with bringing her husband home and in his daily care.  She didn't feel she could ask me though, not knowing what I was up to.  A few days later, Betty and I bumped into one another at the Walking Park and walked a few loops together.  As we conversed I told her of my plans and of the huge leap of faith I was making as I knew it could be many months before I realized any revenue from writing.  Her own issues suddenly clarified and she dared ask.  Having already assisted with Whitey a lot and being blessed with such a disposition as I have; it was easy to say, "Yes!"  Betty will help me with a little income, though I won't be accepting nearly what she offered.  I don't consider this a job, but an opportunity to serve.  So, I calculated what would be just sufficient for my needs and intend to accept nothing more.  I couldn't bear to profit from Betty's misfortune.  Of course she will save a large amount of money as the Care Center is very expensive.

Anyway, we brought Whitey home today.  Several of his Priesthood brethren turned out for the occasion.  Betty had asked for a couple of guys to help me lift him up the steps and into the house.  Eight men showed up!  It was a quiet celebration of sorts as we welcomed him home.  A couple of sweet ladies from the Care Center, who'd accompanied him home were also there to bid him goodbye.  You could tell they loved him and would indeed miss him.  Thank Heaven for the Care Center and the good people who love and care for so many who need to be there.  Thank Heaven for the Care Center Branch who serve their spiritual needs during their stay.

Now to the task at hand.  I'll still be writing most of the time.  But every few hours I'll run over and help where I'm needed.  Periodically, I'll be spelling Betty while she goes to the Temple, to a bridal shower or out to lunch with friends.  I'm thrilled to be able to help.  These are wonderful people for whom I have great love and respect.  If I can play a tiny part in improving the quality of their lives together, it will be the joy of a lifetime.

Sweetie and I will be doing our share of commiserating as she's currently the primary caregiver for her own ailing mother.  We both have remarked that these days of service and love are priceless beyond measure.

The other night Betty took a son and his family to dinner with Whitey and the Rest Home.  They ate pizza while he had his pureed dinner.  As they were leaving, Betty gave him a kiss and Whitey, who has only spoken gibberish for years said, "You're a wonderful woman."  What a blessed, tender mercy.  I believe that Whitey's spirit is still conscious, even though his mind is completely confused.  I believe that one day we will know, that his spirit was able to use that poor decrepit body to convey his love to his devoted wife.

I am certain that I will count myself fortunate to have witnessed the eternal bond of love and friendship that persists through deepening trials in the lives of these fine Saints.

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