The Caramels

I know that it has been awhile since I’ve last been here with a story.  Though today something has been pushing me to write.  Maybe it is the holiday. Maybe I’ve lost my mind. Maybe its just a story that I need to share.

Yesterday I received an email from a daughter of a client that we had taken care of for many years. We actually took care of both her mother and father until they moved into assisted living and then memory care. Thus we stopped caring for them. She was wondering if I would stop by and see him. His wife passed away a few months ago and I told his daughter I would drop off caramels for him. For three years I have made an extra batch for him. And brought him gin a time or two. Like a good nurse.

It is no secret in our office that I adore George.

When I could not visit them for some reason and another nurse needed to do the visit, I would always remind them no matter how much they loved George, I would continue to be his nurse. No matter how much they begged. You can’t have favorites.

Until you meet George.

When I first met George years ago, we found out that he had worked for Cenex and his route included Starbuck, my hometown. We have no doubt that at some point, he met my dad over the years. His name for me was “Starbuck Girl”. I still love that.

Over the years, George has lost his sight and his hearing. He is blind and deaf. This does not stop him from being productive, trading stocks, writing emails or being able to tell you are in the room. He knows me by smell, which I am not sure is good or bad.

Today I stopped by to see him and he is back in his apartment in assisted living. He had briefly moved when his wife was in memory care. He was a devoted husband.

When I arrived, the first thing he said was, “You look beautiful!” It is our running joke since he is obviously blind. It still makes me laugh when he tells me this.

We had a quick lunch together, catching up on our families and I made him some hot chocolate while he ate his caramels.

When I came back, he took my hand and told me how much he missed his wife. He had spent 2/3 of his life with her and this was the first Christmas without her. Just his tone, his love for her softly spoken. He missed her and stated grief has been hard.

I told him that Christmas was just as hard for me. Both my parents are gone and I haven’t felt like celebrating for awhile. Their absence felt. Just like his wife.

We agreed that he should put up his tree, hide his caramels from the staff and that I would come again soon. He has missed our talks. I have just missed his kindness. So similar to my dad’s. They are ironically the same age, though my dad is gone.

Grief is a bugger at the holidays. I know that many of you feel it. Many of you have lost loved ones and friends this past year. Its a hard time. I know…

When I left, he asked when I would come again. I told him that I would bake him a treat in January and he requested cookies. He also thanked me for taking care of him and his wife.

That got me.

I hope you all have a George in your life. Kindness, love and devotion.

Happy Holidays to all of you! Thank you for still reading my stories. Thank you also for reading The Lemon Bar Queen. Your messages about the book have been emotional and unbelievably touching. Your love is felt.

❤️🎄

Jodi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Snowman

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! Friends, family and blog readers, thank you for reading and sending me messages this year. I know that I don’t write as often any more, since the blog was about my mom and I but every once in a while I think of something that is important to me or that you may relate to in some small way. This has been on my mind this week.

This is a hard time of year for people.

I know that there are articles about grief, sadness and loneliness this time of year and I won’t bore you or try to replicate them. I just know and feel how hard it is for people around the holidays.

To the woman in the elevator this week at the assisted living building I was visiting. I understand.  It was just she and I in the elevator and I could tell she was sad. Really sad. She looked so lonely and broken. I was trying to think of something to say to her as we slowly made our way to the 7th floor. Her face full of wrinkles and the saddest eyes. I finally ended up saying, “You look nice today.” She looked at me and nodded. Maybe she had recently lost her husband or maybe her children could not come for the holiday. Maybe she was in pain. I kept thinking about her during my day.

To the family of the people we have lost over the past month. I understand.  It’s never easy to lose someone you love. Ever.  But it is especially hard over the holidays. Your family is not the same and it is supposed to be a joyous time. Waves of grief fall over your heart. I have lost young and old over the past month. Cancer, the main thief, stealing the ones we love.

Many of you read The Piano Player that I wrote last December. Sadly he passed away last month and I miss his sweet smile, his laughter and gentle teasing. The hard part of the job is not to become attached. There are important things to remember called boundaries. He was one of my favorite visits and he is missed. I think people come into your life for certain reasons. He and I shared a few family issues that I didn’t share with him but I watched him handle his issues with grace and strength. There’s my lesson. Grace and strength.

To the husband of the wife I take care of who hasn’t been my easiest family member. I now understand. When I first met the husband in a rehab center, I could immediately tell he was in control of his wife’s situation. He was rude to his daughters and frankly, wasn’t listening to anyone that was trying to help him. When we got his wife home, we had a rocky start. He continued to be rude, condescending, demanding and highly opinionated. I had to deep breathe with him on all of my visits. I really needed to understand him and realize where he was coming from. I will admit that I lost my cool with him on one occasion. And I’m not proud of that.

Over the last few months I have realized that if I suggest things to him and make it seem that it is his idea, things work out much better. I let him talk and listen and I try to understand where he is coming from. Normally it is from a place of love and concern for his wife. I just know that he likes to be right and does not like to be challenged. I have worked around this since my dad was the same way. I finally look forward to my visits with him and he isn’t even my client/patient. My heartbeat does not accelerate as much as it did before when I would have to see him.

Last Friday we had a nice chat together. He brought up my comment I had made to him last month about the fact that I am adopted. He had asked what my nationality was I told him proudly that I had just found out, via a DNA test. He asked if he could ask a few questions and I was fine with what he was asking. Normally I would not answer those private questions to a stranger but I felt alright with where he was going with it.

He shared that he too was adopted. His father had up and left him when he was a baby. It was late 1920’s and he never knew why he left. He knew that he was a successful attorney in St. Paul and that his mother remarried and the new husband adopted him as his own. He never ever saw his father again but had heard that he had been hit by a train and died. Never once did they ever connect. As he was telling me this story, his daughter was standing on the stairs just listening to him tell me this story. She called me afterwards and said that he only told them that story once and that he doesn’t talk about it. She was surprised he told me the details. That story also stayed with me. We are surprisingly connected.

When I was about to leave he gave me a bag with a gift in it. We had just talked about the fact that he doesn’t think he will be around this time next year. He didn’t really want to put up his old tree but he did for his wife. He’s much more frail and I know that he thinks about his mortality and worries about his wife. Somewhat like my father thought about my mom before he died.

I told him I had to get going since I was already running behind. He waved me goodbye and told me, “Merry Christmas! See you next Friday!” I got in my car and opened it up, hardly believing he gave me a gift. After our many months of “debate”. Here is what he gave me:

 

 

 

I am hardly the world’s greatest nurse but you know what? I’m going to keep it in a special spot and when I’m feeling like I am the worlds worst nurse I will turn it on and see the colors flashing.

I understand all of the feelings this month, more than you know. The fragility of this season. The high and lows, the great expectations, the missing of loved ones, the pressure, the sadness, the grief and the longing. It’s alright to feel that way. Really.

Know that I am wishing  you the best holiday possible.

Jodi 🎄 (The World’s Greatest Nurse)