The Samurai Caregiver

Posts Tagged ‘death

One of my very dear friends sent this to me today. It expresses so very well an experience of someone who has just been there for another in their time of need…caregiver or not, relative, friend or not. It expresses our humaness and a level of humanity that we need to get back to, sooner rather than later. A level of respect for another human being in their hour of need out of nothing other than genuine and sincere concern for just somebody else other than yourself.

I could not be by my father’s bedside when he passed last June. It grieves me much, which is part of the reason for my absence in posting here. Read this knowing that if you are that person at the bedside for someone else, it makes such a huge difference to them and their families/loved ones…
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A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside.

“Your son is here,” she said to the old man.

She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.

He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died.. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.

“Who was that man?” he asked.

The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.

“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his
Son just wasn’t here.

When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.”

I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His Son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this gentleman’s name?

The Nurse with tears in her eyes answered,

Mr. William Grey………….

The next time someone needs you … Just be there. Stay.

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Today is the fourth in a series of events where I’ve delivered a presentation to caregivers about the care giver and the care recipient being a team. In the middle of todays presentation, as has occurred to me all month, it dawned upon me that I’, not ready yet.

Though I’ve become somewhat adept at talking about various aspects of caregiving and weaving my own story in regarding that which I do for my Mom, I am apparently not ready yet to talk about what I did for my dad.

He passed June 2, 2011.

I haven’t really been talking about that yet, not publicly anyway. And yet I would feel remiss in these forums if I didn’t at least try to broach the subject of the care I undertook on my fathers behalf, for his behalf until he passed.

Apparently, I’m not ready yet.

Its still kinda new and very raw for me I guess. His passing wasn’t a surprise…but I wasn’t ready for the finality of it all.

Who ever is…really … I mean, coming to terms withe the finality of it all.

I wonder how long it’s gong to take the ‘yet’ time to pass. I know the answer is “it will take as long as it takes and then some”, but I still can’t help wondering…

You know I’m a planner; the consummate project manager. We’re used to having a definite time line for start and stop dates, durations, etc. This type of feeling, this ‘yet’ certainly doesn’t fit very neatly into our little project management boxes.

I was more of a care director than a care giver with him. He rejected much of what I said to him beginning last August all the way through to his transition in June. His rejection of offerings of assistance we’re sometimes painful, but I knew my father, and wouldn’t have expected anything less out of him. The balancing act between doing what he wanted and doing what was needed was very frustrating and tiresome; kinda like dealing with a very competent terrible two’s type of tyke who just happened to be 88/89 years old and still wanted to kick it one more time, stay in control until the very end.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “The mind is willing but the body isn’t able”. That pretty much sums up the situation with him. Watching that nimble mind deteriorate rapidly over the course of the last ten months of his life with a body that exponentially continued to refuse to cooperate… with me constantly getting caught in the middle of his wrath of cross hairs wasn’t fun at all; but it was where I needed to be…and so I was.

So… to that end, what I’m trying to communicate here is  that I’m not ready yet and really don’t know when I’ll be able to add Daddy to my stories and experiences of caregiving. As with him, I must continue to remind myself that guess patience is a virtue and that I need to extend and accept a little of the patience I’m able to exercise with others with me as well for the time being.

I miss you Dad; more than I realized or thought I would. I love you so very much! I hope you’re acting out true to form in heaven, being as cantankerous as always (like Fred Sanford) and giving them hell up there too, enjoying every minute of it!


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Sybil L. Ingram, MBA, Ph.D.

Dr. Sybil Ingram is a respected and experienced professional in the areas of healthcare information systems and regulatory compliance issues with significant knowledge on INFOSEC, NIST, FISA, FISMA, CFR 210,211 & 820 as well as Lifespan Respite Care Act regulations. With over twenty years of healthcare experience, she has been one of the nation's foremost speakers and active consultants for the HIPAA implementation challenges, addressing all major aspects of the Administrative Simplification Subtitle and affected entities/stakeholders. Dr. Ingram has served as a clinician, clinical researcher and instructor, emergency preparedness and readiness specialist as well as serving as an independent validation and verification compliance manager for multiple national providers of healthcare services. She has held key positions for healthcare industry leaders such as HBOC/McKesson, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Labs, the Georgia Technology Authority and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). In addition, Dr. Ingram is nationally board certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, a former associate with the American College of Healthcare Executives, founder of Ingram And Associates, a certified INFOSEC professional by the Information Security And Audit Control Association and the US National Security Agency. As a volunteer, she is an active senior Georgia state representative for the National Family Caregivers Association and has an inventor's patent (pending) registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Organization. Dr. Ingram speaks nationally and internationally on topics that address information privacy and security as well as family care giving issues.

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