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The last phase of life

Posted by markdohle , 15 May 2013 · 202 views

The last phase of life

As I was taking care of Luke early this morning I could tell that this was going to be a morning of confusion.  He was in a good mood, but as happens often with the very old, he will soon be 102, his body is awake but his mind is still in some dream.  Luckily the dream seemed to be more or less pleasant.  He has to be watched of course because he can’t walk by himself, though he can with assistance and great care get to the bathroom and back to bed.  He does not always know this, h is need of help and he being still very quick needs to be watched closely at all times.  He is not a problem, he just does not know what he can’t and cannot do.

Alphonse is different.  Yesterday I pushed him gently to do more.  He had a fall and broke his elbow and is on the mend, so he is still a little shy about doing things on his own.  The body has its own intelligence and at this time he can be overly cautious.  So I encouraged him to get up on this own, while being right behind him, but not touching.  Letting him undress as much as he could etc.  Last night he seemed less anxious and I believe part of that is his slowly becoming more independent.   It is good to see.  He is looking forward to the day when he can be on his own.

So both Luke and Alphonse need watching and care.  Luke because he does not know what he can’t do, and Alphonse because at this time he is not sure what he can do.  A different need for two different men, as it is always, when caring for others.  No two cases alike.

Emilio who died in Nov 2008 was the only exception that I have experienced as a care giver who seemed to know exactly what he could or could not do.  He would let me know that at this time in his life he needed help, because he was getting too weak.  He was always right and because of that after one bad fall, he never had another one.  He even knew when he was going to die.  He told me in June of 08 that he would die before Christmas because he could see how weak he was becoming.  A few days before he died, I was away, so I called him and he told me that he was unafraid and ready to go.  He was such a gently man that I still miss him.  His smile is imprinted on my mind, so gently and loving.

There is joy and suffering no matter what one does in life.  We always have to deal with others, just as others have to deal with us.  Some are easier, some more colorful and others, well they can yes be a pain in the ass as well, yet all are lovable if looked at without comparison to others.  We each have a long history, at the end of our lives that history may catch up to us, where all filters are gone and we are simply ourselves, all subterfuge dropped and there we are….naked on many levels before others.  Perhaps this is the final healing in life’s long process, well hopefully that is so.  Who are we when the ego is no longer helpful, or even important, or perhaps shattered through dementia and illness?  One of the good things about being a care giver is that hopefully I can help those here on there last mile to blossom ever more and to become more open to reality, to God and the deepest promptings of their own heart.  

If we have souls

Old age the final frontier
not easy by any means,
often painful on many levels
that is unknown in youth or middle age.

Which I believe is the most important
part of our lives,

If indeed we do have souls,
a heart that grows eternally,
and we take our love with us;
and all else drops away
or is purified into gold.

Until that final chapter,
most of us live in the in-between
of faith and doubt,
of hoping against hope,
for in this realm
we must always seek,
questions and never give up.