Connecting Pieces of Life-When bad things can bring something good

Back in my childhood home, I have been caring for my father as he continues to recover from a fall he had two weeks back. He needs 24 hour care since his ambulation is not stable, and he has a very painful left foot resisting expectations for a more rapid healing. Dad and I have not shared a living space for about 30 years, when my mother, father, and siblings required my assistance for a few months before her passing away from ALS. Lately, threads of memories are surfacing, not to haunt, rather to complete a personal sense of myself.2013-05-30_14-07-27_334

As God writes the best of plans, my first job when I was 16 was as a Certified Nurses’ Aide (CNA) which trained me in providing range-of-motion exercise, patient lifting mechanics, personal hygiene care, and other useful skills and knowledge. Although my work with the elderly at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, was just a Saturday job while I was in high school (earning $2.40 per hour), I enjoyed serving meals, assisting residents with their much awaited baths, curling their hair in the facility’s “beauty shop,” dispensing medications, and lots of listening. They used to call me “Sweet Sue.” There was Antoinette (AKA Frenchie) from Canada who used to chat with me in French. I was not fluent, but she engaged me to love the language. Someone had said that she had no visitors except one nun who also spoke her language, and so I was heart bound to her. Within a few months though, I’d learned that she was declining food, despondent to end her life. She did not acquiesce from my pleading to eat, and a couple weeks later I was crushed with grief when Frenchie had died.

Tragedy has a way of sharpening our focus and revealing character. Although only 16, I could not bring myself to continue working as a CNA; it hurt too much to know that I had no power to help “save” those in my care.

When Dad came home, all things we formerly took for granted were scrutinized, chair heights, bathroom configurations, and sleeping, medicine, and feeding schedules. A spare bed was brought down to the ground floor and an angel brother-in-law constructed risers for it as well as Dad’s recliner that made it a bit easier for him to get situated with a walker featuring wheels and tennis ball sliders.

It has been a labor of love, even getting my night owl schedule to synch with his 5 a.m. start, and although this does not feel like “home” any more—because I have my own filled with my husband and older children a 40 minute drive away—I can remember where everything is and have flashbacks of family that kind of glue the pieces of my life past to the present.

Also, as I am roughly 10 years older than the majority of my siblings, Dad’s challenges have revealed their characters as adults now. Interesting… There is a deep sense of gratitude for my husband’s understanding and support, and I have observed my children’s acceptance and willingness to also accommodate, taking on a greater share of independence and ownership of home duties. Here’s hoping that I don’t find a tornado zone upon my return!

Since my highest priority has been loving care of Dad and serving his needs the best I can, so far I found time mostly at night to do my professional work and had used the opportunity to see a rather long YouTube (1:16) presentation by Hakim Archuletta.

Wisdom is revealed throughout, identifying the nuances of ancient knowledge related to preserving health, but the last 25 minutes of the recording hits several tidbits of good measure that clue the viewer toward a vision that aligns with what intuitively matches my own. It is worth the time to explore, and I believe answers to the causes of some deep seated illness can be discovered. The concept of “connection” converged with events in my family circles, and I value what I perceive to be God’s hints to promote healing in many of them and their relationships.

Along this line of thinking I reminisced that by digitizing old video media and about 750 photos and slides I inadvertently healed rifts that formed amongst my brood, as there’s a lot of testosterone in my house, and sometimes ego clash. By seeing our kids, we realized some things that were never apparent before. One of the most comedic was to see birthday videos of our youngest at ages 2 and 3 where his older brother merely asked to cut the cake. As parents we probably just did not want to risk him using a knife or anticipated hassles, but we put him off with a solid, “No,” and really emphasized it when he balked. Ah, parent guilt! We promised ourselves that the next family party–a high school graduation–could relieve and deliver us from potential fixation if we finally let him, at 23 years, to finally cut the cake. I wonder if the video game I always saw him play, the one with guerilla combat and hunting knife, had anything to do with that!

In viewing themselves, the kids piped up, “We were such pests!” I saw exceedingly patient parenting, but the beauty of sharing the video memories is that we remembered some really great and harmonious family times, when they were still so cute and innocent. They were close, and seeing it that way again rekindled the bonds, which were perhaps taken for granted.

All in all, I now have current media, replicable technology, which can be passed down to connect us to future generations. Appreciation of togetherness, respect, just sharing meals, and taking time are immensely healing and should not be dismissed as insignificant while our society’s patterns are shredding these conventions apart.

When I was an assistant principal, my raison d’etre was to help people develop and discover their potential. In that capacity, I connected individuals in many ways: to other people, resources, and sometimes to their inner selves. This vocation permeates my self-concept of being a type of guardian angel to help, promote, develop and connect those who can benefit from knowledge, assistance, and by lending an ear. I have been granted blessings I deem worthy of sharing, and I wish to remind readers what Hakim Archuletta pleaded with followers to do. Make it a priority, make time to connect, breathe, and live.

—–Update: Dad is back in the hospital, another one. The medical system foibles have been revealed. Two hospitals, sets of doctors, home health care confusion, and a holiday weekend delay in having competent follow-up resulted in a very bad foot infection that causes immense pain. Thanks for Loyola Medical Center and their teams for bringing a quick admission, expertise, and relief. We hope to go back “home” tomorrow or the next day.

~God is the One who has created all of you originally weak. Then after your weakness, He brings about strength in you, Then after your strength, He brings about weakness in you and the gray hair of old age. He creates whatever He so wills. For He is the All-Knowing, the Almighty. Thus, the Day the Hour of Doom shall come, God will raise the dead, and the defiant unbelievers will swear that they had not remained in the world but for an hour. Even so, they were deluded about the truth of the Hereafter.

But those in life who were given revealed knowledge and who had faith will say to them: Very truly, you have remained in existence from the time of your creation until the Day of the Ultimate Rising–in accordance with the decree in the Book of God. Thus, this is the Day of  the Ultimate Rising. Yet you did not ever seek to know of it!

Then on that Day, those who did wrong by worshipping false gods shall not benefit from their justification for it. Nor shall they be allowed to propitiate the wrath of God for their ungodliness.

Now very truly, We have put forth for the good of all people in this Quran, something of every kind of illustration. Yet even if you were to bring them, O Prophet, a miraculous sign as proof from God, those who disbelieve would still, most surely say: You and the believers are nothing but progenitors of falsehood!

And so it is that God seals up the hearts of those who do not seek to know truth from fallacy.

Therefore, be patient, O Prophet. Indeed, the promise of victory from God is ever true. Thus do not let those who have no certainty in God and His judgment unsettle you. (30:54-60)

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