Is it a miracle that 20 years after a person had been told by doctors that, as a result of a brain tumor, he or she had only a year to live, yet that person is still alive and kicking?
A good friend is in that situation, and just celebrated her 56th birthday. She cannot do all the things she wants to, not least because she is in a hospice, but also because the wear and tear of operations, medication and tests and minor accidents have slowed her down physically. Mentally, she is in several worlds. Her short-term memory is poor, but her recollection of things deep in her past is great. As such, she is a fount of wonderful stories and has many marvellous associations with people living and dead.
She gets agitated by many things, partly because she feels that others are in control and not really taking account of what she wants, but also because she is more irritable these days.
We had a wonderful dinner together on her birthday, on Sunday, and yesterday, my little daughter and I spent the afternoon with this lady, talking, walking, reminiscing.
She made us laugh when telling us about bingo at the hospice, and how she does her best to avoid the weekly sessions, with a group of people who are “in their 60s to 100s”. She disliked having to deal with people being unsympathetic about her inability to place her counters on the right numbers.
She made clear that some of her desires are so simple to meet, such as loving to watch films. She has an old television, with a built-in video cassette player, a DVD player, and a cable service box, all of which give her access to films. But she loves to go to the cinema, yet cannot find someone to take her there on a regular basis. Not a hard task, you’d think. But, as she pointed out, people with jobs to go to or children and families to care for, perhaps cannot find the time to just go out to the movies in the middle of the day, in any given week.
She became frustrated this week because her regular delivery of the weekend editions of the New York Times had not arrived; she had called and it appeared that the delivery person had stopped that business, and others in the hospice had also not received their deliveries. I tried to show her how to use a device like and iPhone or iPad to read the papers. She had difficulty swiping, something which many of us take for granted, and kept of closing the applications, and again became very frustrated: “I just can’t do this!” she yelled. I was sure that she could, so persuaded her to have another try and it got easier, but she was still not convinced that this was for her.
For my part, trying to help her will be a work in progress and it may not be something that is possible to do consistently and regularly, but it’s worth a try.
When we wonder what the world will deal us that is not good, it’s worth thinking about people such as this lady.