Start a story that begins with the ending, then immediately jumps back in time.
With tears in his eyes, he was led away by his nephew. His bucket list had been complete and now he can tell the Lord he is ready to come home.
It all started sixty-seven years ago. A baby on the way. His marriage still a newlywed in his eyes, he received the notice. Six o’clock in the morning; he kissed his wife goodbye. He boarded the old, green bus and headed to the base head quarters.
He did everything his best. He scrubbed potatoes, floors and shined his shoes. He crawled under wires, got muddy, did morning drills. He lost weight, he learned to look but not love the enemy.
He killed, he protected, he wrote letters every night. He shared his love for his wife and child with his mates. He learned of the death of his parents and grandmother.
He fought hard, he fought well. He won. He was awarded letters and colored ribbons. He earned pins.
He was old inside when it finally ended. He was less a leg and carried emotional wounds that couldn’t be blended with the new life he lived. He needed care; too much care. He lost his wife. He lost his child. He lived alone.
He wheeled himself to the nearest corner and watched the people walk by. He shook hands with the little children who stared at him. He passed out tiny flags for those who would take them.
He ate alone. He bathed rarely. The radio became his friend. His spirit had partially died. Days turned to nights. Minutes turned to hours. He gave up.
Room 320 was his new home. Four walls, painted mint green, baron walls, a free, black and white television. Friendly faces of people in white visited daily. A man in cloth spoke from the Bible.
A young gentleman with a heart on his shoulder stopped by to visit one day. One day turned into daily and the two became the best of friends. Dreams and hopes spilled over. A soda in a bottle was delivered. Special candies arrived with bright colors.
He was an old man on the outside. He knew his time was short. One afternoon in May, it was a holiday. The friend stopped by early. He changed my clothes. He put on my socks and slippers. He wrapped a shawl around my shoulders. He signed me out.
I saw the bright sunshine. I saw the green leaves on the trees. I saw mothers walking babies in a carriage. I saw the white, picket fence. I saw the people lined up; one after the other.
He helped me out. He transferred me into my wheelchair. He pushed me to the center of the crowd. I touched it. I felt warmth re-enter my soul. I felt memories flood back. My heart felt as if it was going to stop. My breathing slowed. I felt a hand on my shoulder.
” I wanted to help you complete your bucket list buddy.” He smiled. I returned the smile as my hand lay rested on the
The sun goes down. Music is turned from the streets and now plays in your head. Dancing fireflies, wickedly spinning from cell to cell, creating new ideas that could possibly change your mindset.
You feel no pain but the ache in your heart becomes active and the smile you knew through the shining sun; now disappears, entering questions of darkness that no one seems to understand or see the answers.
You remember the exact spot where the big, brown dusty box with the rusty lid rest. You go to it and you stare at it as if you are trying to burn holes in the skin so you don’t actually touch what is inside.
Seeing nothing happening, you touch the brass handle and with two delicate hands, you pry open the lid. You raise it and listen to the squeak of the aged hinges. Being able to lift it no higher, it stands proud, inviting you to revisit what was once alive.
You scan as if you are taking an x-ray until you see the off-white, stained material. You pick it up and gently place it in your hands. You nuzzle it and press it close to your bosom. You walk over to the rickety, wood rocker and sit down.
The rocker moves to the music you are humming. The words dance happily in your head and you skip back in time remembering what once was yours. The hour passed and it was almost too dark to see to return back to the reality of today. She gently lay her friend back in the spot she had retrieved it. She quietly lowered the lid and made her way back to the chair by the window.
Party getting close
Push those books close
Hurry up bell
No time to spell
Class bell rings
Kids all sing
Time for the fun
No time for shun
These are the memories
Of Halloween parties for me.
I have nothing to live for. These were the words that Thelma whispered over and over.
Thelma had Alzheimer’s disease. It had attacked her many years ago, and if I know anything at all; it is that she shouldn’t have to suffer much more.
Her children and grandchildren used to visit quite often; but once Thelma couldn’t remember who those once familiar faces were, visitors strayed and came rarely.
I am Phil. I am her caregiver. I received a call one day from the agency I worked for. I went in for orientation and learned that family had decided they had had enough. If mom/grandma was going to forget who her own family was, then screw it. Someone else could take care of her.
It was a cloudy, brisk day, the first day I entered that home. The drapes were closed. Artificial lighting was all that could be seen. There she was, sitting in a straight chair over at the kitchen table. She didn’t say a word that I, the stranger, had just let myself in with the key given to me.
I walked over to her and introduced myself. She stared ahead, rocking back and forth. She held an old rag doll in her arms and she rocked back and forth on her chair.
I studied her for a moment, as if trying to suck in all the life that once lived in these walls. I said in a whisper , “What a shitty thing to do. I bet this woman loves her family. Instead of learning about the disease and being here in these last months, they throw her off on someone else.”
Day after day, I returned for my normal shift. I tidied the house, did her laundry, fixed her meals. I set up a Christmas tree and asked her if she would like to help decorate it. ” I have nothing to live for.”
“Yes you do Thelma. You have plenty to live for. It is almost baby Jesus’s birthday. Don’t you want to help celebrate his birthday”?
She stopped rocking and her eyes turned to my face. She said nothing, but clung tighter to her doll. I reached out my hand and placed an ornament in it. With my help, she stood, and I guided her to the tree. She looked at me and instead of seeing nothing; I saw a tear, then two.
I placed my arms around her and gave her a gentle hug. With my help, she hung the ornament. There was silence in the room so I started humming Silent Night.
She turned to me and said, “Baby Jesus, Nancy, Rita and John. I asked,” Who are Nancy, Rita and John, Thelma?” She looked me straight in the eye saying, “Children, they are my children. I have nothing to live for.”
Written by my feelings,
August 19th, was my 45th class reunion. I graduated in 1972 from Warsaw High, Warsaw, Indiana.
I had bounced back and forth on whether to go or not. Oh, I wanted to go; but I knew how easily I fell and for that reason, hesitated.
I had posted my hesitation and due to the encouraging words from Facebook friends, I decided to go ahead and go.
I was greeted with warmth and hugs. I immediately knew I had made a good decision. Some knew of my illness and they were right there for me carrying my food, helping me down steps, and holding onto my clothes, lol, during the group photograph. They were and are awesome people to have in my life.
I took a lot of photos for our reunion and posted them for all to see, along with making a CD for the group, so anyone can have their own copy.
Here are a few photos I took. If you would like to see more, look me up on Facebook and friend me or just visit my photo albums.
Regrets are what she lived with daily. Too many hours spent on what could have been. Sandra didn’t spend too much time on her future. She only knew for a fact, that future brought her to her end of life.
She had a complete page filled up from last evening and as she sat rocking in her chair; she went over her list.
- I wish I would have not made quick decisions
- If only I would have fought harder for what I had
- I wish I would have listened to my parents advice instead of others
- I wish I would have never met him
- I wish I would have said something different when raising my kids
- I wish I would never have started smoking
- I wish I would have completed college
- I wish I would have kept my mouth shut
On and an she read her list, all the time falling deeper and deeper into her depression. Part of her wishes she was at her end. Other days, she stood strong mentally, and hoped for a different turn-out for her remaining days.
She was stuck in a rut and couldn’t seem to move either way. She was alone now. She had nothing to look forward to and this is because she struggled to make the effort.
Depression is not a fun thing to live with. It isn’t a game. It is more like being caught in a glue trap. Others offer advice; some just plain don’t understand how depression works.
I believe a lot of people suffer through some sort of depression in their lives. We are a quick to judge country today. We move swiftly through life, not taking time to ask ourselves,; is this right for me?
The doctors couches are filled with patients trying to go back and start their thinking over. We are now taught to look more at ourselves than at others. We have to learn to start thinking of us sometimes. It can be a good thing.
I know for me; I was taught to obey my parents. Even if I had a different opinion, it was theirs I listened to. I believe for me I just went into my adult life thinking of others before myself. I don’t see that as a bad thing; I just needed to incorporate my own feelings into the topics also.
I still love doing for others. It makes me feel good inside. There are millions of people who wish someone just noticed they existed. There are tons of things we can do for each other, in the smallest of ways and with little time invested, for our busy schedules in life.
There are not that many decisions to make at this stage in my life, or maybe I should say it in another way, the decisions I make now aren’t as important as ones I made earlier in life.
Is this true? It depends on how it will affect me. Will I be happy with my decision. Will I have made myself feel better about myself. Will I be hurting myself by deciding on this. Will I be better spirited.
These are questions we need to ask when ideas come upon us. There is a big part of me that has asked myself, “What do I have to lose at this point? This can only better my situation for today.”
For those of us who suffer from depression, whether clinical or light or caused from an illness; let’s think of us, just a little. I know it’s hard, but hey, we are the ones living with ourselves until our last breath. Let’s live a little, let’s smile, let’s laugh, let’s give up the worries. Let’s reach out of our comfort zone.
Do you ever wonder why you start the day off so darn good, and end up feeling like crap and being run over by a 14foot truck by midday? You do? You know what I am talking about then.
Remember when we were in our youthful days? Stay up later by reading past bedtime, and being called to wake-up, WAKE-UP, WAKE-UP!!!!! by a parent, crawling out of bed dead tired, but within a couple of hours we had enough energy to run crazy-wild for hours and even into the night-owl hours?
What in the world happened? Yes, part of it is getting older, as my kids say, old age a coming. I think it is the responsibilities in life that we carry on our young shoulders that helps tire us out.
You know, that first bill you receive in the mail when you finally break away from the apron strings, well they just start coming and coming until we don’t even want to check that darn old mailbox.
Then there is that time when we give up single life because we are so madly in love, we just have to get married, and then the bills get bigger. Oh wait, then the big announcement of a bun in the oven. I swear that oven gets hotter and hotter, especially when baby two or three or who knows, maybe even more start making those seams of our home pop.
Then there is the worry of enough money to pay those hospital bills, food pantry being filled, oh, and the price of diapers and baby food alone, can set bottle rockets off.
I remember when a box of pampers set me on fire as I whipped out the four dollars a week for them. Now they are what, twelve dollars or so, and baby food used to cost me nineteen cents, but how many jars did I have to buy, along with Gerber cookies, banana oatmeal, formulas. Whoo, I am getting tired just thinking about all the things I had to purchase by having a child.
Then, of course, there is raising the child or children. Nurturing, guiding, discipline, worrying, arguing. It is definitely enough to start the graying of naturally once beautiful hair.
Oh my gosh, let’s not even go to that awful place where the growing kids want their driver’s license, and the cost of insurance, and praying they don’t wreck our only car. Then the idea pops like an exploding balloon. Hey mom, dad, can I have my own car?
Then as our bodies weaken from raising our families, we start getting those aches and pains. Oh, the hip, or oh, my elbow, and that familiar saying,”must be gonna rain.” One day we look in the mirror, and we almost pee our pants as we don’t recognize those wrinkles and bushy eyebrows and what’s this? Gray hair has taken over!
If you follow the rest of us older generations, some sort of plague from outer space grabs hold of us and won’t let go. It may be regular visits from arthritis, poor vision, new visits to Botox center, or implants, uplifts, take out, remove, reverse. Admit it, there is a place for any procedure or ache and pain today. All you need is a rich mate or a bank filled with money.
Before you know it, the pitter-patter of little feet yelling, “Gramma, Grampa, I wuv you!”
We love those grandchildren but come on parents, time to come pick them up! We go to bed as soon as the front door is closed, and we sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows. Wait, it isn’t quite that smooth. That darn water pill is making me have to get up a few more times than I want to.
We look at our partner when we crawl back into bed, waiting for sleep to take over and we think,” Aww, this is the life. I feel safe and secure. I have someone who wants to be with me. I have had a great life. I have beautiful children and grandchildren. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.”Yes, life has many good times and great memories. Along the road, we stumble across pebbles, but we shake a leg, dust off our pants, and we keep moving forward.
She was a widow
Who looked out her window.
She watched children play
Swinging and sliding away.
She remembered back
To the bicycle rack.
The baby blue bike
That she very much liked.
The toy tea set she owned
And still has though she’s grown.
Her favorite baby dolls too
Who peed and boo- hooed.
Her mama’s big smile
Who read books for awhile.
Her daddy’s soft hands
Who loved her so grand.
Her pretty pink room
And her bright balloons.
She wiped away a small tear
As she new death was too near.
But then she smiled once again
As she went to her memories of when.