Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flowing like water

Cooking up a pot of soup made with fresh vegetables from the garden trying to stave off worsening of a head cold. I have felt lousy for a few days, mostly only going out for those things that are necessary: picking vegetables, checking on the boat, and visiting a garden center to select urns and live plants for the funeral mass on Saturday. 

The deluge of rain and thunderstorms continues, flooding streets downtown and making our dirt road a soggy mess. But temperatures have been in the 80's which is bearable for this time of year. The plants are lush from the rain. It was magical going to the garden center where all the yard fountains were gurgling, echoed by the rain hitting the tin roof. I could simply have stayed there for an hour in meditation. Now we are thinking about getting a couple of these fountains for the yard and one for the deck.

In the process of losing three people whom I loved in the last 3.5 months, I have had a lot of time to think about living and dying. As a scientist, I know what happens to the body as we age. I have seen the ravages from disease. And I believe more than ever that prolonging life for the terminally ill is a reflection of fear and denial. So next week, I am going to meet with Hospice's volunteer coordinator and see what I can do as a volunteer to help those who are dying and those who are watching a loved one die. 

I hope that my time spent in working the twelve steps of Al- Anon will help me to practice the principles in this volunteer endeavor. I feel a strong need to do this--to give back and offer my experience, strength and hope to others who are struggling with impending death of a loved one. I feel this as strongly as I have felt the need to help others who are struggling with alcoholism in a loved one. 
Maybe this is another way for me to face my fear of loss and abandonment--a way to let go and simply be okay with the hardest kind of loss. 

Now it's time for more honey ginger tea and to make an eggplant casserole from the many plants we picked this morning. The rain is starting again. The dogs are inside, dried off and the cats are curled up in the big wing chair. All seems to be flowing like water from a beautiful fountain today.


  1. good on you wanting to volunteer and touch the lives of others who have gone through what you have, its how we use our stories to touch lives...i love the sound of running water out of a fountain like that...very cool...and hope that head cold goes away...

  2. What a beautiful post, Syd.
    I remember when my friend Lynn was dying and a hospice volunteer came to spend the night with her in the nursing home where she was. He brought a book and sometime during that night, Lynn went on. I am sure that this man's peaceful presence helped her.
    You will be like that.

  3. I hope you feel better Syd, that soup looks really yummy can I have some? LOL! I think those foutains would be lovely in what sounds a very nice garden.

    I think it is a wonderful idea for you to volunteer for Hospice. It takes a speical person for that sort of thing. I think it is great you want to be a blessing to others.

  4. Nice pot of soup. I love soup and usually make some once a week even in the summer. I sooths me.

    There is a lot a fear around death even though most people believe in life after death. Yes you will miss the person that is gone but to prolong suffering seems wrong.

    It is just a part of life and if you lucky enough to live long enough and have people you love this is part just part of the deal.

  5. Hey Syd - I'm looking for the cats! Oh well, perhaps another time.

    I just love the idea and plan that you are making to assist grieving families or individuals, who are watching daily a loved one dying.

    As a modicum of encouragement, I was 10 years in Al-Anon when my hubby died in my arms, after an 11-month battle with mesothelomia (sp may not be right) - layman's language - Asbestosis-driven lung cancer. I think you will have all you need to counsel anyone with your own feelings as a means of facing the on-coming grief upon loss.

    Yes, I grieved daily -watching Johnny waste away -and his quick witt was not affected - even with the pain meds he was on. It was as though his Higher Power gave him this last means of communication for all he loved.

    Coincidentally, one of his Hospice-care nurses was a girl he dated from high-school years. She and I became fast friends; she, too, was in our fellowship. I considered her a gift for our entire family to have nearby, and so did my husband.

    I'm smiling at this bitter-sweet memory; and thinking, yes, you - this great person - will be very good at empathatic compassion.

    I love you for this.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and C for Saturday's final service for a family member.

    Be safe this Holiday. Enjoy that one day, if you can,

    Hugs and love,
    Anonymous #1

  6. Long time reader/seldom commenter here. What a beautiful idea to volunteer with a hospice group. It seems like your time there would be a wonderful tribute to the ones you've loved who inspired that decision. Many years ago, as a much younger woman, I volunteered with our town's first hospice center which had just a few rooms. I was not mature enough to be comfortable working directly with the patients, so a thoughtful volunteer coordinator recognized my love of plants and gardens and suggested I work in the garden areas that were planted around the patio outside each room's double french doors. It was a wonderful idea, and I often think of her and thank her for recognizing the best way I could help the patients and help myself begin to deal with their situations. Thank you for your words!

  7. Syd, I can't tell you how happy I am that you are going to be a Hospice volunteer. It is truly life changing. Dying can be a beautiful transition. I hope you are able to begin to see that aspect of it through your volunteer work. It is such a privilege to be allowed into a family's inner circle during such a private time. I know you will bring such gentleness and calm.
    I hope you feel better soon friend...

  8. I think so highly of you, turning from your grief to reach out and help others. I hope your cold goes away soon. Enjoy the relief from the heat, too, even if it means rain.

  9. You will learn so much ...I know I did when we had Hospice for 7 months when my dad was passing. They helped us so much but in the end we were able to take care of dad by ourselves (because of what we learned) and at the very end we didn't call them....though we texted our nurse a couple of times!...My mantra was "It is an honor and a privilege" to take care of my dad and reality it was a joy!. The only thing I have against Hospice was at the beginning they were pretty determined it was going to be their way....and my dad quietly insisted it was not. They insisted dad would have a hospital bed...he never wanted that. I finally asked them why they insisted on it and they said it is easier for the health care team...well that was the end of that for me....my dad stayed in his own bed until he passed away in it. Also, they wanted my dad to take lots of pain and anxiety meds in the beginning....my dad wanted to deal with it totally alert..taking minimum meds...and he did until the last three days. Anyway...sorry for the long comment...Hospice is a learning experience and stay true to yourself....I know you will.

  10. I think you will be such a good fit for this valuable work.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  11. That soup looks delicious Syd.

    Are those bubble-jet fountains? many people have them out here where it is hot and the sound of a gentle fountain so cooling. The water is recycled so no waste.

  12. Sounds like a man with a plan. i tutor 6 & 7 year old kids for the same sort of reason. so they don't feel like no one cares.

    You DO know it is alright to take a few days off and get past this head cold thing right?

    I have my postmortem care all set..call a phone number on a laminated card in my wallet and the medical school can deal with what is left of me that I have not fully abused to unrecognizable human flesh.

  13. Another long time reader, rare commenter, but I have to say, I think you will do well and make a difference in the lives of many. Being a hospice volunteer is something that I hope to do in the future and look forward to reading the insights you are given along this journey of yours.

  14. End of life care in this country is insane and will bankrupt medicare. It reflects a craziness about our denial of death.

    I am so glad you are going to do this Syd. I am quite certain you will be wonderful at it.

  15. Syd,

    How We Die by Sherman Nuland, MD is an excellent book to read before making specific end of life decisions. It really helped my family make informed decisions for my mother as she was dying. It is an important, protective measure for all of us to consider.

  16. I think you have that special something that is needed for anyone working with Hospice. It is an anazing organization and I believe you will get as much comfort from working with the patients as you will give to them. Please keep us informed.

  17. This is a beautiful idea of how to give - for you & those you can help. My father in law had Hospice nurses come into his home last summer, during his journey to his passing. We in the family were all so moved by the quality of their care for him - it was such a loving experience to witness. Every one of them felt like an angel to us as we went through the process of losing him. Only 2 mo.s later was our daughter, his beloved only granddaughter's wedding, & as a result of their impact upon us, she decided to give a donation to Hospice in place of a wedding favor for the guests. You have chosen a wonderful organization to be a part of. I hope it helps you as we'll as those you help in your service to them.

  18. Hugs to you Syd! You are a strong and caring man and will bless many by your caring heart and life full of experience. May your passion to help others in a new way open their hearts to the loving God of their understanding.


  19. Aloha Syd!

    I am enjoying your blog. I'm 19 years old and in recovery in AA. I love reading other peoples' experiences in recovery outside of the meetings that I go to. I recently published my first book, a fiction story of five teenagers who get into recovery. If you happen to read it, I'd be curious to know your experience with it. It's called The Mango Thieves: New Beginnings, on Amazon.

    I also have a blog about my recovery called New Beginnings; it's on my website at www.katherinemellan.com. Hope to hear back from you! It's great fun to correspond with other writers in recovery.

    Katherine M.


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