Tag Archives: encouragement

how to meaningful conversation neighbor life on life support

How to Hold Meaningful Conversations with Neighbors on Life Support

Ms. Verla had a stroke on Monday.

Things didn’t look good for her.

She kept pulling at that tube that fed fiber up her nose and down into her stomach somewhere.

I asked her if she was comfortable.

She didn’t say nothing.

“Are you hungry?”

“Uh-huh.”

‘Got it,’ I thought to myself, ‘uh-huh means yes, awkward silence means no.’

“Have your sons come to see you?”

…Awkward silence.

“How long have you been here?”

…More awkward silence. Oh wait, that wasn’t a yes or no question.

Duh.

Well what was I supposed to ask a woman born 56 years before me, whom I had seen walking past my parents’ home my whole life pushing her grocery cart full of cans and glass, to make time pass more meaningfully for her?

I knew her name cause I gave her a ride to the recycling yard once.

Only took me about 27 years to get that close to her.

But Monday I was glad I hadn’t forgotten it.

How else could I have found her room at the hospital?

Strange… I thought at least one of her sons would have been there with her.

Later I asked my dad about it and he said the cops were chasing her sons down in the East-side.

Aside from age and socioeconomic differences, Ms. Verla is Black.

Gosh I hope the cops didn’t shoot her sons down, now that I think about it.

But that night at the hospital, when things didn’t look too good for her, the nurse came in and reprimanded her for pulling her tube five inches out.

Then some guys in the hallway radioed the technician responsible for putting tubes up noses for help.

As it turned out, her sons had requested she be taken off life support.

“Just leave her and see what happens,” said the radio call.

I stared out the door with my eyes wide open.

Ms. Verla couldn’t see me.

She ain’t seen nothing for about four months on account of her diabetes.

But her eyes looked pretty wide open also.

Hm.

The elderly are always more conscience than we think they are.

The food lady came rolling in a food tray for her.

“This is for him.”

“For her,” I said, consternated that her oddly-shaped, languid bulk of a body should be confused with that of the opposite sex.

“Hang in there,” I told her before leaving so the nurse could change out her linens.

…Next night, I expected the worst, but she looked much better.

The tubes had been doing her wrong.

“Hi Baby,” she said cheerfully when I told her it was me in the room.

That was what she always called me, long as I can remember.

“The doctors in the hall are really handsome, you’d like to see them,” I told her.

“Uh-huh!”

We both laughed.

“You’re not doing so bad anymore.”

I stood there for a while watching the clock.

Her sons weren’t there again.

Must be terribly boring lying in bed all day all by yourself unable to move or anything.

Or maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be in order to recover.

I dunno.

“You want me to read you the Bible?” I asked.

“Nn-mm.”

OK! no more awkward silences.

“You want to hear Amazing Grace?”

“Uh-huh.”

Took forever to load on the phone but once it started I could see the look of relief on her face.

Half way through it she held her hand out to me.

Did she want me to stop it?

“Do you want me to stop it?”

“Nn-mm.”

She held her hand out again.

Oh. Right. Hold hands.

I told her I’d be back in a couple days to see how she kept up.

When I came to the hospital, the young man at the reception desk told me she had been discharged.

“Do you know where to? I mean, I know you can’t tell me, it’s confidential, but I’ve known her my whole life, and I have no idea where they took her.”

“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely, “I don’t even have access to that information, and if I did, I would not be able to tell you.”

So just like that, Ms. Verla’s gone.

I always imagined myself writing her biography, interviewing her about the way life was in the deep south before civil rights and all that.

I guess it’s common to have regrets left over when long relationships draw to a close.

I’m glad, though, that she was our neighbor all those years, I’m glad she was a part of my life, and I’m so glad I went with her as far down the road as I could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Prompt: Pick Me Up

I’m gonna try doing this from my phone…
It’s getting all foggy inside the comforter here.
Yesterday my friend texted me if I wanted to go to Starbucks with her cause they were having a 50% off sale.
That cheered me up though I couldn’t go since I was at work.
It also cheers me up when my husband says he’ll take me shopping, he’ll make me lunch, he’ll do the dishes, or he’ll stop by the grocery store.
When someone calls me “Mija” or “hija,” terms of endearment meaning “honey” or “daughter,” it warms my heart.
Not often someone will call me funny or an artist… I take both compliments quite seriously.
Just as long as they don’t call me a funny artist.
Also find it charming when someone asks how my cats are doing.
If I had to choose one it’d be when someone says, “I saw your pictures” or “read your poem.”
Some of these pick-me-ups sound a little self-centered.
Maybe next time I try to cheer someone up, I’ll just talk about me.
Response to wp daily prompt.

fat duck flying

I Hope

I hope you never die.
I hope no one ever has to lose you
With the exception of me.
I hope the sky is always blue
For you
(Unless you like gray).
(In which case I hope it’s gray).
I hope your kids grow up in a garden with a pond.
Yes.
A duck pond.
But the ducks will not migrate
Because I know you’ll overfeed them
And they will be too fat to fly.
I hope you have lots of them.
(Children, not ducks).
(Well, ok, ducks also).
(But especially children).
They will make you laugh
And you can explain things to them-
The way things really are-
Not the way people like me would have them believe.
Tell them unicorns aren’t real.
Tell them cats don’t know how to type or read.
Explain to them the laws of Physics
At an early age so they can not fit in at school.
Don’t give them a false sense of pride.
They find out sooner or later.
We all do;
When it’s too late to go back and change where we’re going
Because we didn’t know who we were.
But you are different.
That’s why I hope you never
Have to
Go away.
That is, with the exception of,
From me.

fat duck flying

lawn chairs and yellow rose

Flatulence, Free Writes and the Porpoise of Life

Recently I was visiting a couple of friends at their house when the husband farted.
“Did you just fart?” asked his wife.
“Yes. That’s what people do.”
“I love you so much!” his wife exclaimed.
OK. That is really not the reaction my husband would get from me.

But lately I’ve been going to groups I find on meetup.com and one of them is a free write group, coordinated by Amy Robinson.
About twelve of us meet at a coffeehouse or book store and she gives us writing prompts.
I don’t spend time with any of them outside of the group, but writing with someone connects you to them in a different way.
It is as if you are letting them into your house, your personal space, but a space you will never be able to move out of.
When we share our writing with someone, we are opening the doors to our souls.
“Come in! Come in! This is what I think. This is who I really am. Critique me. Love me. Drink up my feelings and feast on my opinions.”
Especially free writes. I mean, all of that’s unedited.

At the group, when someone reads a piece, the others give positive feedback.
The prompt last Saturday was to write about something that is a big deal to one person but no one else cares.
Well I improvised a story about a girl who thinks she wants to kill herself because the guy who used to stalk her no longer goes to the place where they once met.
After I read it, a long awkward silence ensued. Finally I said, “OK…”
A couple people were nice enough to hurriedly come up with positive comments but they were just being polite.

So when we write a lot, some of our writing can be “farts” so to speak.
I’m not saying my story was. I personally found it to be very funny. Like an inside joke that only I got.
But I’m sure now and then I’ve blogged stupid things.
I just think if someone can read you that way, if they can overstay their visit and never want to leave… maybe the girl in my story wouldn’t kill herself.
Maybe writing’s enough of a reason to keep on living.