Note: I wrote this several months ago and had not planned on sharing it. However, it occurs to me that there are many who have family in some form of long term care. I thought that maybe they could use some reassurance that their family members are not just cared for, but also cared about.
I work in a nursing home with Seniors. It's an incredible job. I get to meet amazing people from all over the world. I get to help people when they need it the most, and I learn something every day. There is a downside though.. Due to the nature of where I work, you care about people, and one day, they are gone.
People deal with it in different ways. Some act like nothing has changed(until they get home), some shed a tear, and some utter a silent prayer. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However, as there are people depending on us for their care, depending on us to remain professional and objective. When we leave the office to start our shift, we leave that behind, to be picked up again later. It's part of the job.
Every once in a while though, you meet someone, who becomes more like family.
Theo was one such lady. She was a kindly woman who had had a very full life(by her own admission). She had been a nurse, a volunteer, a Mother, Grandmother and friend. She had traveled all over the world and would share stories of her journeys. I spent many of my breaks just chatting with her. She would ask about my Mom, my kids... Why a nice guy like me was still single(LOL), and she would tell me stories of her children, grandchildren and travels. She loved her family and spoke of them with pride.
She was truly one of a kind. One day during one of our chats she told me "I don't want you to think that I am suicidal, because I'm not.. But I am ready to go on to the next life", when I asked her why, she responded that everyone needs something to look forward to. While she had had an very full life, she was coming to the end, and there was nothing left to look forward to. It was really, one of the saddest things I'd ever heard anybody say. I didn't know what to tell her. Maybe the indoor bowling activity the next day? Or the concert that we were having on the weekend? Maybe that was something to look forward to? I knew what she meant though, and figured that kind of honesty deserved honesty in return. So I said "You may be right, but when your time comes and you are gone, I will miss you", that got me a very large, smile.
Just over a week ago, my Theo got her wish. I had been off for a couple of days, and a very kind hearted co-worker e-mailed me to let me know, so I wouldn't be surprised when I came in to work.
I never got to say good bye, I never had the chance to say thank you. Now when I go to work, there is another very nice lady in Theos room, but last night, while doing rounds... I opened her door to check on her, and for a brief second, was surprised that she wasn't there. I guess this letter is my way of saying goodbye.
I was going to say Rest in Peace, , but no, that is the last thing that I wish for you. You had plenty of time to rest while you were here.
I hope that where ever you are, you are very busy. I hope that there are thousands of things to do and millions of things to look forward to, and I hope that there are wonderful people to share it with.
May the world you live in now have lots of traveling, and exotic foods. May it have loud singing and joyous dancing, and dogs... and Bridge. I hope that there just isn't time to do it all.
However, on those rare occasions where you just need to sit down and take a break. Remember that there are those on this side of the veil, who miss you and are grateful for your friendship.
Be Well, and Be Happy.
Your Friend..... Mike