"There are a lot of people in the graveyard who wish they had your problems"
I am in, as you may recall, training to be a hospice volunteer. My part, as you will also recall, is to follow my dog around as she jumps into laps and tries to spread some of her abundant love and affection.
I have been warned that, unlike our work at the senior center where everybody signs a release for publication, hospice is, as you might imagine, PRIVATE. And here is me, as you know, telling everything, everyday! But I think I can tell stories without touching anybody's or any places' privacy.
One thing I had not realized was that people volunteer to do ANYTHING for hospice patients. I thought it was going to be all dog people like me. NO! Instead, people might volunteer to read to people, go to the store, do errands, prepare food, work in the house, massage therapy, etc. I was blown away: the OTHER VOLUNTEERS ARE REALLY GIVING SOMETHING AMAZING and I am just FOLLOWING MY DOG! Everybody else seems truly generous, and I feel like I have an easy gig.
The training goes into all the things I have never thought about and humans avoid looking at. How do we end our lives with any happiness and dignity, if, as most of us statistically speaking will, we have terminal sickness and some time before the end.
I feel like I have been sent to a great and selective university where suddenly I am learning so much! Last night we saw TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, about a young writer visiting his professor through his final illness. My GOODNESS Morrie was living every last second! The point being, of course, we need to live every second BEFORE we face the end. We all take life for granted, don't we? Good health, being able to do what we like? Or simply being able to fend for ourselves.
I feel like I touch God every time I make something beautiful, it is a gift being able to follow my imagination and make those things come alive. I am lucky also to be nearing 50 in extraordinaryily good health and circumstances. Do I truly really understand that? That is the question for me.
How about you, are you able to deeply enjoy and experience your time here on planet Earth....? It is hard...
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Thursday, April 11, 2013
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This is spectacular, Gary!!! May I share this on fB?
One thing I know, I really missed your post being here with my breakfast this morning. And then the topic was "the end" so I had a momentary fear that you were stopping blogging, as already happened by another favorite blogger this week. ARGH! So though we all face the end of life, the threat of losing the joy of my friendly bloggers was much more uncomfortable for me!
Bringing unconditional love to someone, while it may be easy since Penny is providing it, is still really important.
I do deeply enjoy my life, not every minute of it, but I've got the best job in the world and some really, really great friends. Life is good.
If you weren't following your dog around s/he wouldn't be able to do the great work s/he's doing. You're doing great work. As someone who has had loved ones enormously assisted by hospice, THANK YOU (and your dog).
After caring for Jz at the end of his life, it completely changed my views on living. I take chances that I never would have, and appreciate the little things... you never know what's coming around the corner!
My answer to your question is yes, but I could do better. I faced death down 15 years ago and I have been grateful for everyday I have lived since.
You, Gary,however, make me realize how much better I could be at being grateful. Thank you.
Funny that this is your post today. Checking my email right before checking your blog, I learned that a dear friend has gone to hospice with the end expected to come fairly soon, if not within the week. I hope there is someone like you following a dog like Penny around his hospice. Thanks Gary. Life is short, but life is good.
Gary, you are truly one of the good ones!
Anything you do for Hospice patients is usually so appreciated. I did respite care so family members could have a few minutes to jump in the shower or take a short walk and get some fresh air..
I read cards to patients who couldn't open their eyes and read anymore. One lady just wanted to hold my hand while she napped.
I had one family that just wanted me to go in and fix lunch because none of the children wanted to leave the room.
Penny (and you) will give some people comfort in ways you may never know. It's a good thing you're doing.
Oh this is such a wonderful post, Gary. Such heart! Such big wonderful beautiful heart !!
I'm having difficulty living in the 'present' and being happy with current circumstances. You've reminded me to stop and re-evaluate my mind-set.
and Happy Belated Birthday :)
This is something I battle with a lot. I'm lucky. I know I'm lucky every single day....but do I live life to the fullest? Maybe not as much as I should. You are doing a wonderful thing with Penny. And all those other volunteers as well....it takes a special person to devote their time to anyone. And giving your time to those who have LITTLE time; extraordinary!
Bless you for being there and sharing your time, your humor, your dogs, your SELF with people facing the end.
What a gift you're offering! You really rock.
So happy to hear that you are becoming a hospice volunteer. Its not an easy field to plow. I hope Penny can spread some love... those ppl really need it.
The seniors enjoy seeing YOU too, Gary, even if Penny gets all the attention! And let's face it, if it wasn't for you, she wouldn't be visiting on her own! I think the best lesson I've learned from seniors, which is probably even more profound working with hospice as you have written, is to plan and think of tomorrow, but live for today. Eat your dessert first, play hooky on a sunny day, never wait until conditions are perfect to try something- do it now!
My mom was in hospice before she passed and she loved when I brought Olivia to visit. There is something about stroking those velvety ears, about something that treats the situation as if it is totally normal that I think people appreciate. It is truly wonderful work that you are doing both at the hospice and the senior center. All too often people can't handle the end and wind up leaving people alone to face it. People like you and Penny make that more bearable.
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