This last week I had the privilege to attend to a gentleman in his last days.
He is always an interesting man as he has kept his desire to interact even in these end times. I met him only a short few weeks ago when things were not going very well.
Thanks to good advice and better follow-up things are much better.
This day I come, he is bed-ridden in the living room. It is a good thing and he looks comfortable, although paler and thinner and I do not think there will be a next week for him. I give him a sip of water before he start to change things for him.
The woman floating in and out of the living room is familiar to me but I cannot quite get it. She was in the room a few weeks ago when I was here although I do not think that is where the memory is.
Just as I am finishing up, he looks up and says very loudly: "SHIT"
Well, by golly, it was not an expletive it was a descriptive.
I laughed out loud and he started singing: "Brown stuff brown stuff..
All right, perhaps a bit graphic for you or morbid but it was cute and funny and even his wife, usually so uptight laughed too.
So we cleaned up... again.
As I finished I was telling the wife she did not have to clean up for me... I can do it. But she did. The other familiar woman came over and said to me:
"I could never do your job. I don't know how you can do it and stay so calm and relaxed."
"Oh, you never know," I said, "I used to live in the big city and had a much different job until my own mother became terminally ill and I came here...
I looked at her.
"THATS WHERE I KNOW YOU FROM!""
She said to me: "You seem so familiar to me."
We took a hospice course together. All those years ago.
That course was the defining factor in my retraining.
Once I took it I knew I wanted to pursue palliative care.
For her, it was the other way. Once she took it she knew she had to move on.
I remember her well as her husband had early onset Alzheimers.
They were both active dynamic people. He was a health food, hiker,runner, holistic sort of fellow and it was a shock when he became unwell.
He was dead at 42.
So this is an echo and a ripple.
She looked great. She is remarried. And she is doing a very good job of helping her father in his last days.