"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
DEAR NEIGHBORCARE VOLUNTEERS AND FRIENDS:
It occurred to me recently-having spent time with someone whose father had just died, and with a young mother-loving but at wits end, and with a friend ill and not able to move a muscle-that the cheer we can live, and pass on, is present in direct proportion to how well, in the midst of suffering, we fathom moments of beauty when we see them.
Beauty is encroached upon severely these days, worldwide, compressed into the "minute particulars" missed by any of us who moves too fast to take notice. (These days, the phrase "missing in action" could well take on new meaning.) "Minute particulars" hold riches that lift, in any season, a heaviness of mind and heart.
For some of us, the purple finch brightening for springtime can move us-and the mauve radiating from the birches, or the green gold sheathing branches of the weeping willow. Struck by news of war and GE foods and cloning and deforestation, chilled by a creeping coldness that diminishes much of what is simple and harmonious and alive, we still can find comfort-and reminder of the reverence of life-in these small and poignant wonders. (Not long ago, nearly moaning with pleasure, an old woman in a nursing home relished a homemade offering of deviled eggs!)
If we can't find beauty, we can be it. Some days we must move ourselves and each other from reserves of our human store of sweetness.
A smile given, or received, unexpectedly, is a gift. A 103 yr.-old-friend (See NC news below) who no longer can do all she used to says if she can make just one person feel happier, every day, she is glad-this despite all she is wanting.
"For spiritual maturity is not tested by the frequency of our mystical moments of exaltation, but by the glad and calm serenity of will in Him which is ours when barrenness and dryness come upon us . . ."
NEIGHBORCARE NEWS REQUEST FOR EMERGENCY FUNDS: A few weeks ago, I made calls/sent letters to three or four people, asking if they would help a 103-yr-old NEIGHBORCARE friend retain her private room at Northern Bay (Penobscot Nursing Home). Our NEIGHBORCARE Friend's (ONF) funds had run out, yet sharing a room had always proved a hardship. ONF (of over three years) has carried many burdens in her life; we hoped to spare her being downgraded.
Hundreds of dollars in funds have already been donated by NEIGHBORCARE, depleting our reserve by at least two thirds. ONF did not ask this of us and would not ask this. As of now she does not know we are asking. We considered our donation to be a celebration of ONF's life and courage. Response has been gratifying. Though the difference between semi-private room charges (which would have been paid for by Medicaid) and private room charges is a whopping $35.53 a day, ONF is safe in her room through most of April.
Now we am putting out a general call. Will you help? 35.53. a day/ 106.59 for three days/ 248.71 for seven days/ 497.42 for fourteen days/ 1101.43 for thirty one days Any amount at all is welcome and appreciated. (We write a check to Northern Bay every two weeks.)
Make checks payable to NEIGHBORCARE. Write "FOR ONF" on note line. Remit to NEIGHBORCARE, P.O. Box 370, BLUE HILL, ME 04614
PLEASE NOTE: 1)Your donations are not tax-deductible. 2) Should ONF die, or become so incapacitated that she moves to the nursing home section of Northern Bay, funds designated for her would remain in the NEIGHBORCARE account, available to defray printing/telephone/mailing costs/taxes on account interest and/or to help out someone else. 3)The NEIGHBORCARE account is and has always been in Jeanne Gaudette's and my name. In the past we reimbursed ourselves—not always fully—for money spent on NEIGHBORCARE matters. Now we write MANAGER'S CHECKS on the account, directly, to printer or post office, etc., whenever feasible.
As I wrote in my letters and mentioned in my calls: "We realize we may not be able to keep ONF in her private room for the rest of her life. However, each day she remains in her room is a day of grace for her. Perhaps, in some real way, helping ONF we are helping all others who deserve such a gift of time and peace."
A HAPPY ENDING Two sisters farther Downeast needed assistance. The elder sister is confined to bed. The slightly younger sister, the primary caregiver, needed an operation. What they wanted was someone to live in for a few weeks to care for, at first, the elder sister and their aging dog and other pets-and then for both sisters (in addition to the home health care they both would be receiving) when the second sister came home from the hospital. The alternative was nursing home care and the prospect of that was not appealing.
NEIGHBORCARE's purpose is "to serve ill, dying, physically burdened-or heartsick- neighbors in their efforts to live their lives to their fullest capacity, and/or to find resources that support this purpose." Here is an example of the adjunct function: to find resources. The sisters were willing to offer room and board and pay what they could for a caregiver. Many calls were made, and those who received calls made calls-each person so openhearted and eager to help. The sisters felt cared for though no one had been found to live in-lots of possibilities but no luck-and the day of the operation was fast approaching. They had begun to prepare themselves to accept the nursing home option. Then from out of the blue the younger sister called to thank NEIGHBORCARE. The perfect someone had popped into the picture, able and eager to stay in the sisters' home for an extended period of time and do what was needed. As it turned out, the situation was perfect for this "angel" as well. WIN.WIN. And splendid proof that energy spent in one direction often brings desired results from another.
A harrowing incident for a NEIGHBORCARE friend-and an INSPIRING RESPONSE.
A woman was experiencing a medical emer-gency. Within the half hour following a few phone calls made on her behalf, there was someone to accompany the woman in the ambulance (so she wouldn't have to feel alone), someone to bring her home from the hospital that day and help her settle in, someone to care for her dog, and another person to deliver a nourishing meal. (Last newsletter, I'd put out a request for folks to keep extra portions of nourishing food in their freezers. The meal this woman received was delivered (Hooray!) by someone who had volunteered.)
TIP If you happen to stain your clothing with a dot of blood from a cut, moisten the stain with saliva, not water, to prevent the stain from setting before you get home. Then blot. The digestive enzymes in the saliva will help break down the protein in the blood-and the protein's what makes bloodstains difficult to remove.
FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR Fresh ginger packed next to an aching tooth has been said to ease the pain.
A HEARTENING STORY I'm not sure how this story, SLEEPING WITH BREAD, came to me, but I believe you will agree it deserves sharing: During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow."
"I work to renew a ruined place, that no life be hostage of my comfort."
PONDERING We can't truly know how various sounds affect people, confined to bed, who don't-or can't-communicate their wishes. What is music for some is torment for others. Flute music might be fitting for you or me, but not for a dyed-in-the-wool, rock n' roll musician, even if he were dying. Whatever brings peace is whatever comes closest in a person to what feels like love. My mother—a musician, herself, of the finest kind—craved music she used to sing and play in the forties, then panpipes, then silence. When in doubt, silence is never (always?!) an "unsound" choice. Very punny.
A QUALITY WEBSITE EMPOWERING CAREGIVERS Choices, healing and love are the focus of this uplifting, informative, superlative newsletter for caregivers, and it's no wonder. Its author/creator is a wonder, herself.
FROM THE KITCHEN Toss the following with favorite pasta twists or ribbons: flaxseed oil—chopped red onion-chopped hot peppers—minced garlic—sunflower seeds—a touch of Braggs or sea salt—lots of crumbled blue cheese—chopped broccoli—black pepper OPTIONAL—marinated artichoke hearts—spike and/or dulse shake—sliced black olives.
A SPRINGTIME GIFT Give a NEIGHBORCARE friend a gift of daffodils or other springtime flowers. An old friend who was dying, and could no longer take care of herself in more obvious ways, could feed herself with the good that came from focusing on the loveliness of a lily someone had sent and I held for her. How we loved looking deep within that blossom! Another gift, providing color -as well as music via its visitors-is a bird feeder (under ten dollars at Home Depot for a perfectly adequate tube feeder). Delivering enough black oil sunflower seeds to fill the feeder several times over and, if necessary, being willing to keep the feeder filled is a added boon. Seeing it empty might cause a NC friend worry and frustration for the birds' sake and outweigh the joy that having the feeder brings.
"In my own worst seasons I've come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. . . Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again. . . onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore." - from High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver
Blessings all around you, this spring and in every season,
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370