Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Follow-Up To Lew's Death.....


I wanted to give a follow-up note to that terrible day, last Saturday, when our company's beloved patient, Lew, died in my arms...

...and also to tell you something which happened during the memorial service which gave me the "goosebump" chills---but in a good way...

As you can imagine, we have all been torn up emotionally by this event, as Lew was one of our favorite patients and we had not expected Lew to go this soon, although we knew he was gravely ill.

Myself, Belinda and Bonnie (another good friend, an LVN I hired recently) (remember Bonnie helping me herd cows at the Rickenbocker ranch when we all used to work for that large, corporate road nurse company?) were all especially sad because we had all three taken care of Lew for awhile in that previous road nurse company. And we had been ecstatic to get him back through a serendipitious event.

(He and his wife had switched to our road nurse company awhile ago when Belinda, myself and Bonnie heard through the Podunk grapvevine that Lew was in the ICU----and we had gone to visit him and take a gift. When Lew and his wife heard that the three of us were working together again, they stated that they had missed us terribly and had asked to switch over to our road nurse company, to which we of course obliged, glad to get them back.)

Anyway, we all thee nurses took his death very hard. One good buddy in the comments section of this blog, Poody, mentioned a good point and asked why we could not have elicited a medical helicopter out to Lew that day instead of using an ambulance. But unfortunately, Lew's particular county is so brushy and forest-like that there are few places for a helicopter to land safely.

(There were a couple of nearby chicken farms with those long, barrack-like buildings which house zillions of chickens, but even those properties had very little flat and clear land of the size needed for a helicopter to land on, and thus we were unable to get the clearance for that type of rescue. Lew probably wouldn't have had the time anyway, since he died in my arms so very shortly after I arrived at his home.

Belinda and I went to Lew's memorial service on Tuesay, at a small, country church in his county. (His funeral service will be this Saturday. They were able to wait that long as Lew chose to be cremated because cremation is cheaper. They never did have a whole lot of money.)

Anyway, during the memorial service, which was truly a wonderful celebration of his life, I found out things about Lew that I never knew before.

For example, Lew was one of the policemen on duty the day that Kennedy was assassinated. Also, he was a decorated Veteran of the United States military forces. And also, in his last few years, whenever he was well enough, he played Santa Clause for in local nursing homes and children's homes. He was a man who was always helping people, and he will be geratly missed by a great deal of people.

Lew had 21 grandchildren and 7 great-gandchildren. Many of them got up during the Memorial Service to tell stories about Lew, and believe me, they were great stories, enabling all of us to celebrate Lew's wonderful life and his well-known kindheartedness and generosity. And we are going to try our best to take very good care of Lew's wife from now on--- and hopefully help her through this very difficult time.

I felt very honored to have been able to go to that service.

Anyway, here comes the part that gives me the "goosebump chills".....

Lew knew he was dying. He had asked his doctor to "give him the straight scoop", telling his doctor that he "wasn't afraid to die because he knew that it meant that he was going home to The Lord, whom he loved so much." And his doctor had replied: "Alright, Lew. I'll tell you the straight scoop. You need to get your affairs in order because the time is coming soon."

And so, Lew's wife told me, that after that revelation from the doctor, Lew had, indeed, set about to get his affairs in order--- arranging his funeral, buying a burial plot, calling up all of his family and friends (which were spread out all over the United States) to come for a last visit--- and had even picked out the songs he wanted sung at his memorial service.

Anyway, when that part of the memorial service came for the songs to be sung, as I sat next to a tearful Belinda (both of us handing each other wadded up wet Kleenexes every now and then), the pianist slowly and solemnly mounted the piano platform. Two ladies of the church followed her---the singers.

And then the pianist began playing the first song---and the singers began singing...

...and the song was.... "I'll Fly Away"!!

I almost fell out of the church pew. Because remember how I'd heard the Wild Angels' wings all day long on the day he died? Well, when I heard "I'll Fly Away", that song about flying away with the angels just about broke me up---but in a good way.

Even now I cry just remembering how it thrilled me when the singers started the opening bars of the song---goosebump had formed on my arms and the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. I absolutely love that song and it was the perfect song for that particular moment in time...

Because, as you guys assured me in your wonderful comments, Lew DID indeed "fly away" to a better place that day---and I know he was with the angels of Heaven, who were guiding him along with their strong, beautiful wings. I know that in my heart.

And I loved hearing that song so much that I'm going to print the words of it here, just so even though you weren't at the Memorial Service, you can share a little bit in it.

(And then I'm going to tell you of the wonderful things that mysteriously happened to me this week---where I think my own Wild Angels might have been trying to cheer me up!... *

"I Will Fly Away"

Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away.

To a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory, I'll fly away.

When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye, I'll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have flown, I'll fly away.

Like a bird thrown, driven by the storm, I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory, I'll fly away. When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye, I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then, I'll fly away.

To a land where joy shall never end, I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory, I'll fly away.

When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye, I'll fly away.


* ("I'll Fly Away", Alison Krauss and Gillian Welsh)


Anyway, after all that had happened, I figured that it would prove to be a dreary and depressing week, and so I told myself that I was going to try hard to keep a stiff upper lip and do my usual methods for trying to turn a "lemon week" into "lemonade."

So one of the things I did to get my mind off my depression was to finish Jane-Anne's baby sweater for her upcoming baby (and she's getting bigger and bigger, having just passed the first trimester mark)---and remember, she asked for a "camouflage" sweater. So here's the pic:

And then....another miracle of new life happened!....

So I began half-heartedly decorating my bedraggled balcony with some flowers that Walmart has been putting out for spring--- due to losing some in the very harsh and windy thunderstorms which have been occurring in the last couple of weeks. And after I put a few pots of some colorful blooms out there, I thought I'd "recovered" my balcony somewhat nicely.

But one of my particular hanging pot of "impatiens" flowers (which, bless its heart, had hung on for dear life throughout all the recent windy storms, swinging madly in the wind till I thought it would just blow away completely) just WOULDN'T do well. No matter what I did for it, the plant looked....well, unhealthy. I thought maybe it was the bad weather it had endured.

And then I looked closely one day and noticed....that there were all kinds of sticks and twigs sticking out of the sides of the pot. And I thought to myself, now what in the hell is this?

I looked more closely...and you guessed it....a bird had built a nest in it!

I was excited as heck but I left the nest alone. It was a mockingbird--- and those crochety things, although they sing beautifully, can get very territorial and act pretty ugly if you get near or do anything which "threatens" their nests.

(One day, one of those durn things swooped down out of mid-air and grabbed the best damn tuna fish sandwich I'd ever made in my entire life RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND....)

(And I'm still holding a grudge because I've never been able to match that particular batch of tuna fish. I can't seem to get the cilantro and dill pickle juice amounts just right. Dammit, I knew I should have written down the recipe...)

And so believe me, after that bird built that nest, whenever I was on the balcony watering the other plants, that durn mockingbird squawked its head off at me, telling me in bird language to "get the hell away from my dang nest."

But I retorted right back, saying: "Look here, bird. I'll leave your nest alone but I've got to water my damn new petunias, new impatiens and my brand new Majestic Palm, dadgummit. I paid a dang fortune for them and I ain't gonna let them die, too, since I'm going to have to let your pot of impatiens die in order to leave your nest alone. And since the stupid weather took everything else, I've got to have SOMETHING out here, IF YOU DON'T MIND. I'll leave your flower pot alone but give me a dadgum break here, you sassy mockingbird, you."

(Hickese translation: If a Podunkian REALLY gets mad, they may shorten the word "dadgummit" to just plain "gummit" --- but usually that's just the really old men who do that. I faithfully use the full word, "dadgummit", in order to be ladylike and not bring down the wrath of anybody's grandmother down on my head, even though I don't think anybody can hear me on my balcony---but you never know, because afterall, there IS a church next door...)

And then, just to be firm to that mockingbird, I added: "And it's not like I don't live near a whole forest where there's 358,000 and fifty-leven-umpteen places for nest-building, ya know? There's hardly any buildings in this entire neighborhood because we're surrounded by about 5 square miles of forest and "city ranches"--- including the land the buffalo live on. But noooooooom, you chose MY hanging pot of impatiens! So you're going to have to be fair and deal with me on this balcony every now and then, fair enough?"

The bird still squawked at me. (Oh well, I just try to hurry and stay out of its way as much as I can. I'm just happy it allows me sit in my knitting chair in front of the balcony door and blissfully watch its comings and goings every day.)

But then......after awhile......well, I got .... well.... curious. In fact, I got so curious and excited that I just COULDN'T STAND IT!!!


And so.... (I hope you don't get mad at me like my sister did) .....but I did it. I very hurriedly stood up on one of my white wicker balcony chairs, quickly aimed the camera haphazardly...and shot a picture!---and then ran back into the apartment!

(Okay, I'll admit that I did it a couple of times....but please....forgive me.....I plead curiosity, wonderment, and a love of animals and birds.)

(And besides, the Message Goat has long ago told all the animals and fowl around here that I'm insane as hell--- but harmless. So I figured what the hell...)

And here are the results---in the order in which the miracles happened! There were 4 eggs and so far 3 have hatched. BEAUTIFUL, ADORABLE, LITTLE BIRDIES!!!!!! I was so excited that I called the Fish and Wildlife Department and they told me that in a few days the babies will start eating normally. I've already seen the mama birdie carrying food to them, even though they're not at the stage yet where they have opened their eyes or started popping up their heads with their beaks open to get food. (Here's the pic where just two of the four had hatched.)

(Well, actually, I saw one of the babies open it's beak today, like it was wanting food, so they're getting there. I can't WAIT for when they're all opening their little beaks and clamoring for food!!)

Check it out---3 of the four eggs have hatched! (And there's the one that's opening its beak---isn't it adorable?) (The other one looks like it's trying to open its little beak, too---it'll learn!)

(But the funny thing is....the babies don't look like mockingbird babies---nor did the eggs look like mockingbird eggs. The eggs and the babies look more eggs and babies. I'm wondering if a cowbird hijacked the nest, as they've been known to do that a lot around here---and the hijacked nest's mama bird just raises the cowbirds as their own....)

(Maybe y'all can tell me what you think about that....) (I mean, I know that mockingbird eggs can be "speckled", too, like cowbird eggs--- but these eggs REALLY looked like cowbird eggs--- and those big babies are DEFINITELY looking like big cowbird babies....)

They sure look funny when they're first born. But that one is getting a good beak on it. I wonder why that 4th egg won't hatch yet? The others hatched quick. I hope nothing's wrong....

Anyway, I think they're adorable!! And they look like they're getting more fuzz on them!

Oh well, maybe I'm just too impatient! They're all just as sweet as anything and I'm looking forward to watching the dear little things grow!!!




Cyndy said...

Oh Bo, Thank you for sharing this with us. Lew certainly was an amazing man.

In this line of work, you certainly have the priviledge of attending quite a few of these end-of-life-celebrations. I know that one left me fervently hoping that my family would remember as fondly as Gwens's did. We usually only see people at the end of their life, and the person that we get to know is usually not as multi-dimensional as the one that others have known and love. They are like a faded and worn tapestry for us really. Gwen had end-stage dementia and was unable to talk and was largely unresponsive, but still lived at home with her devoted and loving 87yr old husband until a bout of pneumonia saw her end up in hospital. Complications resulted in placement in a nursing home, where she died just 10 days later. The picture her family painted of made me wish that we known each other before her illness. To her family, she was an incredibly humourous and vital woman, with a life that was rich and full of colour.

Keep us posted on the birdies. We had some poor frazzled magpies raising the babies of a cuckoo-shriek in our backyard gum tree. The cuckoos had thrown out the magpie eggs, and substituted their own. These babies grew so large and competitive that one threw it's brother out of the nest. It was almost as big as the magpie "parents" that were trying to keep up with the demands for food!

Thanks again. xoxo

Susan Palwick said...

That's a wonderful story about the memorial service, and I love the pictures of the baby birds. What a wonderful affirmation of new life in an unlikely place! Blessings to you and all your work, Bo.

Gwen said...

A wonderful memorial. Lew sounds a great person. He died well and how good (and Hard) you were able to help him.

Death and birth, birth and death. I can't wait for pictures of the babies growing up!

danielle said...

An amazing are blessed to have known him.
That is one of my all time favorite songs - my heart just fills and soars when I hear it - thank you for sharing it.

They are noisy and messy but I love nesting time...and for some reason our house is a nesting place.
I also have 2 lovely doves that visit and walk around the patio looking for food - my doves.
Was visited by a hawk one day too - guess he was attracted by all the little birds that come to visit - but they got the last laugh when he got caught in the rose bushes when I was stalking him for a photo! His pride was damaged a bit, but nothing else...havent ever seen him since.

Anonymous said...

It's been about ten years ago now, but my cousin requested the congregation sing I'll Fly Away at her funeral. So we all sang away with a will and sent her off as best we could on those wings.


valerie said...

Bo, I'm glad you all attended Lew's memorial. I know his family was comforted by the love care you gave him at the end. It meant a lot to us when many of his nurses attended my nephew's memorial service. And I love that song! Now the sound of wings is truly exp;ained.
On another note, everybody send your thoughts and prayers to Kim and her family over at Emergiblog. Her brother in law was killed yesterday and her sister was badly injured.
Nurses care! (andpray). So get on with it!

Beth in MN said...

I think one of the most important lessons we learn in death is that the cycle of life continues ... some pass on and are remembered in our hearts, and we continue to celebrate and enjoy new life ...

I love the "I'll Fly Away" song, too, and thanks for sharing the words!

poody said...

you best be careful ther Bo I have had a pecking on the head from an agry Mockingbird moma beofre and i tell ya they mean business. I had finches in my hanging plant this year. 4 babies and they all flew off 2 weeks ago!

Warrior Knitter said...

Good luck with the birds. Husband once saw a mockingbird kick a cat in the rear end. Just walked right up to the back of the cat, kicked it then flew off.

Thanks for sharing the memorial service with us. I love moments like you had with "I'll Fly Away."