Filling the Gap


Paul spent most days in a routine. He began by waking promptly at five in the morning. He read a chapter in his Bible then got dressed. In the kitchen he started his coffee maker and then stared out the small window while listening to the noise of the coffee perking and inviting memories to help set his day.

After eating a bowl of oatmeal with butter and honey, he tidied up the kitchen, grabbed his jacket and hat, then headed for the garage. He guided his car to the three blocks ahead, turned down the little, gravel path and shut the car off. There, he sat for however long it took to make him feel the comfort he needed.

His wife, Anna, had been buried here seven months ago this day. She had passed a way from a grueling disease. It was a long battle and they both had not won. It was a neurological disease called Multiple System Atrophy.

Prior to this disease, their map of life had been drawn by thick, dark lines. Travels to Arizona and New Mexico had been penciled in. Sights of a large cruise ship sailing along the waters was in the making.

Then, out of the blue, Anna started running into things. Her fingers began to have a tremor in them. It seemed, as Paul remembered back, that each few months, a new symptom arrived. He could remember her first fall, her first choking, the day she got weak while tending to her flowers. Everything was crystal clear now but back then it was a train traveling fast on the rails; a real blur.

“I miss you so much Anna. Life is definitely not the same. I now no longer dream of tomorrow. In fact, I tore up that map.” Paul waited, as if for a response from Anna on what he had done. Feeling nothing, he got out of  his car and stood in front of the flowers he had planted.  When the time felt right, he got back in his car and headed home.

Once home he let the noise of the television and the chimes of his clock keep him company. In the midst of this one afternoon, a knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Opening the door, he saw his friend  Gene standing before him. He let him in and they both sat down in the living room.

” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you Paul. I figured I would just come on by and pay you a visit. How are you doing my friend?”

” Oh, I’m fine you know. No new aches or pains. God let me breathe in a new day. I went down and visited Anna. I told her how much I miss her.”

“That’s exactly one of the reasons I stopped by Paul. There is this woman at church that I think could use your help.”

“Oh”, Paul said as he laughed,”I’m not interested in any sort of relationship. It just hasn’t been long enough. My mind is always on my wife, Anna.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that kind of relationship”, he said as he slapped his hand on his pants with laughter. “I mean, she is hurting. She’s got some sort of sickness. She’s been feeling all alone. She says no one understands how she feels. I figured you are a sensitive man. Maybe you could just be a good listener. This would be a good opportunity to get yourself a new friend; something to add to your day.”

Paul didn’t say anything and Gene didn’t push the topic. Instead, they turned to the weather and what the week hoped to bring. After about an hour, Gene said it was time to go. Paul walked him to the door and they patted each other on the back. “See you in church Sunday.” Paul nodded.

The days went by and Sunday arrived. Paul got his Sunday clothes on, grabbed his Bible and headed to church. He smiled and shook hands with the greeters. He spoke about nothing important to others. He headed down the aisle to his seat he sat in each Sunday. There sat his friend Gene. Beside him was his wife, Gloria and beside her was a woman sitting in a wheelchair.

She looked at him and he at her. He nodded and sat down, thumbing through the church bulletin. The choir began singing and Paul sat and thought about what was being said. He listened to the sermon which was on people helping people.

Afterwards, there was a church dinner. This church had a carry-in every couple of weeks. It was a nice time shared among all. It gave purpose to the day and week ahead. Paul found himself sitting between this lady in the wheelchair, Gloria and Gene sitting on the opposite side of the table.

Talk was light. Smiles were shared. Gene introduced the stranger. Star was her name. Paul found himself watching her as she ate. She dropped food at times. It looked like she was struggling a little with swallowing. He wondered what condition she had that made her do that. It threw him back to his memories of when his dear wife did that too.

After the dinner was done, people either helped clean-up or headed out the church doors. For a brief time, Paul and Star were the only ones left sitting at the table. They exchanged words that would not be remembered later.  Soon the silence could be heard. Everyone had left. Gene and Gloria got their coats on and the two helped Star with her coat on. They helped her to their car and Paul followed, watching them help get Star situated.

Weeks turned into months and it seemed every Sunday a new routine had been formed. Paul sat with Star and the two opened up more and in time they became good friends. Paul would share his memories of his wife and Star would share about her life and medical condition.

One Sunday, Paul had been invited over to Gene and Gloria’s house for dinner. When he arrived and being let in; he noticed immediately that Star had been invited also. Paul didn’t get upset. Instead, he found himself sitting next to her on the couch. The two chatted while dinner was being finished. In face, the two chatted so much, Gene couldn’t help but smile to himself, knowing he had made a good decision on introducing the two.

The following Monday, after Paul returned from his visit to see his wife, the phone was ringing as he walked through the door. He answered it to learn that Star had fallen and was in the hospital.

He felt a tug at his heart that he didn’t expect to feel. He thanked the caller and went about fixing himself his lunch. This consisted of some left-over baked chicken and a half of a baked potato he hadn’t eaten before.

He tidied up and decided to go to the hospital to see Star. He learned she had fallen out of her wheelchair while trying to reach for something and this fall had caused a broken hip. After the completion of the ER, Star was transferred to a room upstairs for a few days of observation and to make sure she was healing properly.

After that time went by, she was transferred to a local nursing home for rehabilitation. Paul learned she would be their approximately six weeks. Now, after his usual routine of daily living, he also added the daily visits to see Star.

He brought her little trinkets that sometimes included her favorite candy, or a new book to read. He stayed most days until the supper hour. He found himself wishing he didn’t have to leave. Star felt the same way. She couldn’t hide the fact  from herself that Paul brought her friendship which included a feeling of peace and a lingering to have the next day’s visit arrive.

There seemed to be a lighter step in Paul’s life. He told himself over and over he didn’t love Star. He could love no other woman except his Anna, but yet, this new friend, stirred something within him.

After a couple of weeks went by, Paul made his usual visit. He entered the empty room. Where was Star, he wondered. He walked out to the nurse’s station to learn that Star had been having a temperature and her lungs seemed congested. They had her transferred to the hospital for further investigation. Paul thanked the nurse for the information.

He took the one rose he had brought with him and laid it gently on the pillow of the made bed of Stars. He left the building and headed for the hospital. When he entered, he asked what room number she was in. The receptionist told him and he took the elevators to the fourth floor.

There was Star. She was laying in a bed. IV’s were hooked up to  her. He saw two of them. A monitor was keeping track of her blood pressure and heart rate. Star wasn’t talking. She was so quiet it scared Paul.

A nurse came in and checked on Star. She smiled at Paul but said nothing. Paul pulled up a chair close to Star. He watched her sleeping. His thoughts turned to prayers to the almighty God. He felt a tear drip on his folded hands. He knew in his heart that he had come to know and love this woman.

He started whispering to Star. He told her how he felt about her. ” I don’t know when it happened dear Star, but some where along the way, I grew feelings for you. I hope you can hear me. I just have to tell you this because I want to know if you feel anything for me other than friendship.”

He held her hand but nothing came out of her mouth. He sat there for hours, waiting for her to open her eyes. Suddenly her eyes twitched and she opened them. She looked at him but said nothing. Instead, she squeezed his hand. He took this as she was answering his question, that yes, she felt something for  him too.

Paul squeezed her hand back and then kissed her hand. He beamed and the two shared an emotion that would never be felt again. Paul finally decided he had to leave. His watch told him it was time for supper. He leaned in and kissed her forehead and whispered that he would be back the next day. Star closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Paul stopped at a small restaurant that served home-cooking. He ordered the special, meatloaf dinner. In this was a thick piece of meatloaf which included mashed potatoes and green beans. It was way too much food and he requested a take-home box for the leftovers.

When he arrived home, he turned the television on. He tuned in to some game show. He listened to it but kept thinking about what would Anna be thinking about Star. He fell asleep and was woken to the sound of the phone.

“Paul, I’m going to stop by in a few minutes. Get your coat and hat and be ready to go. There’s been a change at the hospital with Star. You and I are going to go visit her.” Paul hung up and got ready.

In no time at all they went through the double doors of the hospital and were standing in the doorway of Star’s room. Two nurses were in there. They saw Paul and Gene and hung their heads in silence. They took the white sheet and covered Star’s body then walked up to her friends and patted them on the back. “I’m sorry gentlemen. She just couldn’t fight it anymore. The infection in her lungs just got too big.” The nurses gave them a hug and walked out of the room.

Paul and Gene walked over to the bed. Paul reached down and felt Star’s hand through the sheet. He held it until Gene whispered ,”It’s time to go I think.” Paul let go of her hand and kissed his palm and transferred it to  her forehead. The two turned and left in silence, Gene’s arm around Paul’s shoulder, patting him, like everything is going to be okay.

 

Will everything be okay? Is death something that we can heal from?

Is it possible to love twice in a life time? 

Life sure doesn’t seem fair at times does it?

God placed us on this earth to learn and feel love towards others. For those of us who have experienced these feelings, we somehow manage to go on with our lives, but the void left behind never fully closes.

This story was written by;

Terry Shepherd

02/21/2019

We Are Here for a Reason no Matter the Age


As most of you know; I have been a caregiver for what it seems half my life. I have a deep desire to care for others. I like knowing that I had something to do with how they feel about themselves and life.

 

Since I have become disabled myself, it is hard to have to look at me as one who needs help. I received my Life Alert pendant and machine yesterday. It was very simple to hook-up and now I wear a companion around my neck. When I am cooking or taking a shower; it is nice to know that I really am not alone any longer. A push of a button sends help if I truly need it.

 

I help people on my Facebook. I try to continue to educate those with M.S.A., but I miss actually getting out and going to help others. We sometimes believe that when we grow older; life will really not change that much. The only one who could possibly change is ourselves in our health.

 

This isn’t true though. The people who we invite into our lives, their lives change also. Sickness comes, money problems, loss of some type; life continues on and this allows me to still be of help at times. I friend of mine is in a health crisis at this point, and once again, I am going to be able to help out with some caring experience.

 

I ask for prayers for my friend. Prayers for God to enter their heart. Prayers for healing. These are the two most important issues I can think of at this point. So if anyone believes in prayer, please remember me in them.

 

terry

The Familiar Place


Last evening it was quiet. I did some of the things I wanted to get working on and then I went downstairs. The poem I just wrote is about what I thought and saw.

 

THE FAMILIAR PLACE

The Christmas lights glowed

Reflected on her tears

I felt the storm

Of thundering memories.

 

We aren’t really that close

I didn’t know what to say

I looked around for others

Not a shadow of a face.

 

I felt the tug in my heart

Requesting me to stay

I pulled my walker close

Locked my brakes and sat down.

 

Words flowed easily

From my mouth

I explained I felt her feelings

As I was living mine.

 

We shared so easily

Memories of our families

The empty seats at dinner

The place we live in now.

 

We spent about an hour

Like friends for ever more

We ended with some laughter

We then both went our own ways.

 

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

 

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Merry Freakin Christmas!!!!


Tis the Christmas season. Time to be stressed, underpaid, overworked and the biggest, pretend smile ever right? Nah, some really do enjoy that push and shove time of year. The time the gift you are holding and thinking to yourself, “Will they like this?”, and the lady behind you yanks it right out of your hand.

The time of year that you definitely have that grocery list of the most needed items and you find that the prices have doubled since last week. Makes you want to let the cart remain right there in the middle of the aisle and let people go around it if they want to shop. You are definitely leaving without the filled list and going to the neighborhood bar.

Remember that Christmas a few years back when you worked the hardest ever on that special candy recipe. You only had a few more degrees to raise the candy thermometer to when suddenly the front doorbell rang? You looked at the boiling candy. You thought how rude it would be to not answer the door, especially when every, stinking light was on in the house. You decide to answer it and gently and politely tell the person that you can’t chat; to come back at another time. You aren’t interested in any sales pitch.

You hurry to the door, brushing the hairs away from your face. You open it and to your surprise it is the members from your church that you have attended for over twenty years. They start singing Christmas carols. Oh my gosh! My candy! My friends. You put on that fake smile and you prop one leg on the other as if you have to pee real bad. When they are finished; you return to that black boiled, stuck on pan of candy.

Hey! Wait a darn, picking minute! It’s your life too, right? You can make decisions at this time of year also, right? Just do what I do. Don’t open the door. Turn the lights on low. Only cook after everyone is in bed. Turn your favorite Christmas music on. Grab a cup of hot chocolate. Prop your feet up. Breathe deep and smile. Hug the night.

Merry Christmas my friends!

 

God’s Got This


It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. Many doctor appointments. Doctors of specialty trying to fix my unsteady gait problem. No one has been able to help; though I do appreciate the efforts.

 

Many times Neurological problems can not be helped. Doctors can not fix the brain while we are still living in most cases. I have had my eyes and prescription changed and I got new glasses and frames too.

 

Next week I go to my Primary care doctor for lab work to see how my sugar levels have been and how I am doing on my insulin. I am still struggling to keep my sugars down so I have to wonder what will happen next. I, myself, believe with the fight I have to keep steady sugars, that perhaps after thirty-eight years of being a Diabetic; my pancreas is failing. Time will tell if my thoughts are on the right path or not. In November; I go back to my second Neurologist for a re-evaluation.

 

I have had personal issues along with doctor visits. I have been so sad that I can’t make everything in my life correct. I was having a wonderful luncheon with a good friend of mine Wednesday.

 

I just love spending time with this gal. She is relaxed, a good Christian, and we can talk about anything. I had been telling her about what has been happening in my life lately and she said something that turned my thinking a 360.

 

She said, “Maybe you are being tested by God to see if your faith will hold strong during these times of struggles.”

 

Bingo! I knew as soon as she said it; that she was right. I suddenly relaxed and I thanked God for allowing this friend in my life that day. I am still having my issues; but I have a whole new outlook. I am giving my problems to God and letting him deal with it.

 

Back to my living. I am living with a smile and hope , knowing God’s got this!

daisy

What Would you Do?


How do you react and what do you do when you run into someone who used to be considered your best friend? What about a relative that you were close to and then when life changes your circumstances; the relative changes their personality towards you? Has this ever happened to you?

 

It has to me. I have never been so  hurt, emotionally, as when my father passed a way and my family turned their backs on me. It wasn’t something that I did to change their views. It was my father’s choices in his will. You know the words, I leave this to this person and that to that person.

 

I don’t know what my dad was thinking because I have not been close to dying yet and therefore I could not begin to read his mind in those final months. He knew though and he knew the feelings he was carrying.

 

Choices he had picked in previous years suddenly seemed to take a different direction; the closer to death’s door he became. He obviously had discussed us kids to different family members when his life was full of living.

 

I also don’t believe that people who are close to dying and want to make their final decisions go a different route, exactly discuss such personal issues with others. I believe this is exactly what happened in my father’s case. He changed his mind.

My father passed away, December 1st, 2017.101_0626

It took a year and a half to settle everything and from that date on; life changed. It has never gone back. There is no family to talk to anymore.

 

I’m not whining so don’t feel sorry for me. I didn’t make those choices. Others made their own decisions to stay a way from me. It hurts when I think about it so I don’t try to think about it too often. A tear appears as I write this today; but I will get through it. I always do.

 

My point is; the way we treat people. I have been talking about this on my own Facebook page for a couple of days, so this is the end of the topic. The thinking I want you to take away from this is; is it worth it? Is it really worth it to turn your back on an old friend or a family member?

 

I bet you think I will say it’s right or wrong. I can’t say that because I don’t know how I would feel if suddenly someone from my past wanted to talk to me today. I guess my first thought would be; What do they want?

 

I guess I would be suspicious, let a little hopeful for a re-uniting? I don’t know. For me, for these past several years, silence is better. Less hurt, less tears, less remembering, less pain.

 

So, what would you do if you ran into that old friend or that relative you haven’t spoken to for years?

Those Three Little Words


I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I am a big dreamer now a days. Usually they are nightmares but last night it was an eye opener. Do you ever have those dead stop eye opening moments? I don’t know if it’s good or not but I have not had them and now that I have had one; it has changed my view and thoughts forever more.

 

It happened so smoothly, it inched its way into my brain so softly that I didn’t even feel it happening. One sentence stated at an earlier moment and now as I lay my head down to sleep for the night, comes to me, opens the window to the mind, and sits staring me right in the face.

 

There is no denying, no place to run, no more excuses. I have to accept. So this is what I dreamed of all night and it woke me several times. This morning I feel almost like a friend who has lost their best friend. I see you but I don’t know you.

 

I know all there is or I thought I did and now I look at you through a clean window and I see no streaks. The truth shines through and now I must relax within and quit all the foolish ideas that up until now I thought would always work if only I worked hard enough to make it happen.

 

It almost feels like the burden of guilt of over trying has been a weight lifted from my small shoulders. I can brush off the dead leaves and bare branches. I can smile and not feel guilt for not sharing in your thoughts. I can feel relief as I know where you and I truly stand in our small corner of the world.

 

I can flake off the responsibility of believing it is I who has to fix things that happen in life. This is not for me to do or decide. My whole being has but one thing I must still continue to do. I will continue to pray. Pray that God helps light the path you walk on and shows you that there is a better way to find what all seek in this world.  For me, I want to say thank-you God. I will now pick myself up and search for those three little words in life called; Live, love, laugh.

 

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Almost in Tears


Today is not a day full of pain. Today is a day filled with almost tears. It sounds stupid and crazy right? I don’t blame you for thinking that. Sometimes I just don’t understand myself.

My parents have been gone for years. My brother has been gone for four years. Knowing this is fact, then why do I still have my sad days.  Last night I had different dreams that I remember well.

I dreamed of family and laughter and getting together to share a meal. I know that my children are grown. I know that my life is blessed with friends who care and love me. Yet, here I am, feeling in almost tears.

I was feeling this way when I read one of my blogging and personal friends blog. It touched me because I knew I wanted to be more like her than who I am this day. I am glad I read it. I gained some emotional power to deal with today.

Do you want to meet her? Awesome! Here is her link.

https://babyjill7.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/a-new-journey/#comment-10713

 

Today is a new day

Filled with promise

Memories of yesterday

My job is to give

To be my best

To show others

I care

That I am there for them

Yes, today represents;

New opportunities.

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

 

terry

The Face in Reflection


One of the worst things I hate about where I live is the constant signs of death coming. When I lived outside of this retirement center; I lived for life, for being happy, for being able to move the knowledge of getting older aside.

 

There are over eighty apartments where I live. There is no way, unless I was blind, that I don’t see aging here. There are wheelchairs, walkers, canes, limps, falls, slow movement, sitting, gray hair, wrinkles.

 

Get the picture? You can’t escape this scenario and you can’t forget the fact, we are aging. What makes it even more concrete is when you hear the EMS and sirens. I know, someone has fallen or worse; died.

 

In the past week here; two have passed on to  heaven. Once again it is pounded in my brain; I will die too, but not today, hopefully.

 

I was sitting out back on the bench, waiting to take a photo perfect for this story, I knew I would write. The trash disposal dumpsters are out in this area. I looked at it and saw many pieces of furniture. There were miscellaneous items of household goods too.

 

Someone came out and I asked if there was another case of bed bugs and the furniture had to be thrown away. The reply was,” No, that belonged to the lady who just passed.” My heart instantly sank.

 

You see, living here, I know most of the people. We chat and eat dinners together. We share our feelings. I have helped her with medical issues in the past; so there was a connection.

 

On the other side of the coin, there are the rules of this building. If someone passes away, the family of the deceased may have rent to pay, according to how long the deceased’s belongings are in the apartment. The family has two weeks to get rid of all belongings of their loved ones and if it runs into the next month where rent would be due, the family has to pay for that.

 

On the emotional side; it killed me to see her belongings out in the trash. It killed me harder to realize my friend had only passed away twenty-four hours prior. Oh, I know the rules but Lord, to get rid of her things so quick made me feel like I am to pretend she was not here.

 

It is the way it is, I guess. It made me wonder what will happen if I don’t get the opportunity to move out of here, what will and how quickly will my belongings, the things I cherish the most, will be gone from where I lived and breathed.

 

Well, the photo I was waiting to capture for this story or post came in my view. A lady who lives here walked out the back door and down the ally. I captured her and when I looked at the finished photo; I saw my face in the reflection.

 

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Life is What We Make It


It has been an unusual summer. We have either had lots of rain or high humidity.

Today, it is perfect weather. Sunny, low humidity and a day to think about going outside. I have not had a chance to go over to the city park and take photos of the flowers. Perhaps I can do that today.

Tonight is Warsaw’s First Friday. Theme is on trucks. There are probably going to be a lot of men looking at this truck show. Might be a good time to grab my camera and ride my scooter downtown.

I praise God that I still have the ability to make decisions. The short-term memory doesn’t seem to affect every part of me yet.

I thank God for being able to still walk short distances and be able to walk with a walker. I have been struggling to cook and it doesn’t seem to be a short-term thing any longer. The Ataxia takes over and my standing last about ten minutes before I feel as I will fall to the floor.

I don’t like it; but at least I can still stand. Cleaning my house takes break intervals, but at least I can still do it. Standing in the shower is very difficult, thank God for the word quick.

You probably know someone who’s health is worse than yours. I know I do. Let’s remember to say our prayers and thank God for where we are in life and pray for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Have a blessed and happy, peaceful day, my friends.

 

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