Saturday, April 30, 2011

To a World War II Vet 1921-2011

A friend was widowed earlier this week.  Her husband, a member of the Greatest Generation, passed on at the age of 90 after a long life including a stint in the U.S. Navy and owning his own printing business.  He loved nature, hunting and fishing, family, and friends.  He proudly belonged to the American Legion. You could not have asked for a fuller life.

My friend and her sister have always been so supportive of my involvement in the life of Bil, lending encouragement, sending me articles to read, and providing inspiration.  I didn't know her husband as well, and the last 6 years of his life were struggles to fight a couple of strokes and 4 bouts of cancer.  My friend was his loyal caregiver during this entire time. Even when it became clear he needed 24 hour nursing, she constantly visited him at the nursing home she reluctantly put him in, bringing joy to her husband and many of the other residents when she brought his dog to visit him.

One of the things she was planning to do for the nursing home residents, when her husband suddenly took a turn for the worse, was advocating for the replacement of some very badly worn coffee carafes.  One of the last things she did for her husband was to get his room changed when another resident died, so he could feel the sun on his face one last time.

The small things....coffee carafes.  The sun.  We take them for granted but anyone in a nursing home loses control over many of portions of everyday life.  And with that I mention a trend of putting people with developmental disabilities into nursing homes before their time.  Could I ever imagine Bil in a setting where he would have to beg for sunshine because his roommate didn't want the sun shining?  But it happens.  And, although this was a "good" nursing home and had a caring staff, "stuff still  happened".  Without his wife at his side, this veteran of World War II would have had an even harder time of it.

Our developmentally disabled deserve care and respect, too.

So today, I gladly deviate from the purpose of this blog to pay tribute to a Friend of Bil's.

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