Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hospice Veteran Gets Last Wish Granted (Video 3:29 mins.)

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. Anonymous

During this season of giving, honoring wishes of veterans is especially important. However, the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in Florida cares all year long about hospice veterans and their last wishes. They have created the Bay Pines VA Medical Center Make-A-Wish program primarily to grant last wishes of hospice veterans who have no close family or friends. Since 2002, they have helped over a hundred hospice veterans realize dreams.

Christopher Glenn, a hospice Navy veteran, wished longingly to take a plane flight over his hometown. As time went on and his terminal illness progressed, he had given up hope of ever having his wish come true. But Stuart Sidell, recreation therapist at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, had other ideas. He decided to make Christopher’s dream a reality and even had him serve as plane pilot.

This video report from “The American Veteran” captures the wonderful results that this thoughtful act of consideration accomplished in enhancing the quality of Christopher’s life. Two weeks later, he died with his last wish fulfilled.


During this holiday season and throughout the new year, be love(d).

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Uninsured Patient's Poetic Cries (Video Poem)

Having no health insurance is a serious problem. Aurora Harris, a friend and fellow poet, has been living the unlivable with a torso serving as “a tomb of womb pain.” Like millions in America, she bears the added hardship of having no health insurance. In addition, she is the primary caregiver of her 89-year-old mother, who is very ill.

Throbbing with pain from an unknown infection, Aurora wrote the poem "On Deaf Ears: A Poem Before Turning Fifty." She hopes her anguished voice will be heard and help the many people agonizing in a healthcare system in need of urgent reform. 

Note: During a recent conversation, Aurora shared that her health is improving. She credits the intervention of a concerned friend who led her to appropriate medical care. Too many sufferers without health insurance are not as fortunate.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at booksellers such as Amazon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advice for Adult Orphans

More and more of my friends are becoming adult orphans. Many have one or no parents alive. Others are caregivers who will possibly
 become orphans in the near future. These suggestions can help adult orphans coping with life’s new reality:

  1. Flow with the grieving process. Each person’s bereavement is unique. Maintain good health, accept assistance from others, and get counseling support if needed.
  1. Remember that you are responsible for your own happiness. Hobbies, travel, social functions, volunteer service, and other enjoyable and fulfilling activities add quality to your life.
  1. Establish new holiday traditions and family rituals if you think you should. You can include ways to commemorate deceased parents. Keep their stories alive for generations to come.
  1. Help your children and others plan for their future roles as adult orphans by preparing yourself and encouraging them to discuss and record their end-of-life wishes. 
  1. Remember that life is for living. Deceased parents would want you to move forward productively on your journey. Doing so is another tribute to them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas in May Story: Hospice Volunteer and Nursing Home Patient

Have you ever celebrated Christmas in May? A hospice volunteer in Detroit nursing homes, I shared a wonderful Christmas in May experience with one of my patients. Sometimes patients needed me to help them solve problems. One day, Inez and I had an especially great visit. I had been thinking about how to find a key for a music box her niece had given her for Christmas. She loved that music box and liked to have it on display, so she would have a good excuse to talk about it. She had never heard it play because the key was missing when she received it. She said her niece had tried to find a key, but with no success.

The music box was a lovely piece of handiwork. A wooden base supported a clear glass container. Inside the container lay a beautiful butterfly resting on a small floral bouquet. Underneath the box was a hidden switch that made the seasonal display enchant with spurts of brightness. Inez, my ninety-two year old patient, said that she often sat and watched the softly glowing scene blink on and off. One night, she and I quietly watched it together. That's when I realized how much this silent little music maker meant to her. Unfortunately, neither of us knew what song it was supposed to play. We imagined the Christmas song we thought it should play and hoped one day we could solve the mystery.

Getting the music box to play became my project, but I knew I would need some help. The next day, I explained the problem to Burton, a teacher at my school. He decided to become a part of the solution by checking out some stores that might have the missing key. It sounded like the search for Cinderella's shoe. After looking for two weeks, Burton finally found a matching key at a large toy store. The sales lady was so touched by his story about Inez's "musicless" box that she gave him the key free of charge. We couldn't believe our good fortune, which became Inez's thrill maker.

In the second week of May with spring showing off nature's fashion makeover from winter, Inez heard her cherished music box play for the very first time. She picked it up gently and carefully placed it near her hearing aid. The song we had wondered about for months, the song that had driven us to discover its name finally played the sweetest version of "Joy to the World." Just hearing the music box fulfill its purpose felt like a miracle. Inez grinned widely, thanked me, and told me to thank the nice man who found the missing key that made her music box come alive.

The mystery had been solved, and Inez was ecstatic. I thought nothing else that day could outdo the pleasure of hearing the music box play, but I was wrong. After Inez set her mechanical miracle on the window sill, so we could admire it playing and revolving, something wonderful occurred that surprised us both: The brightly colored butterfly started moving, slowing creeping up to the opening red flower. Inez and I gave each other eerie "Twilight Zone" looks. Then we shared rainbow smiles about the joy in our own little world.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.