From where I sit, this came ‘out of the blue’. It was just a few months ago that Dick broke his hip while taking his wife, Pauline, to the doctor’s office. Now, he has been diagnosed with lung cancer, probably the same kind that Mom had. Rhetorically, I can ask why this cavalcade of misfortune has hit this family. Unfortunately, I know that this assortment of sadnesses is not dealt exclusively to these folks, but is shared by us all, universally. I just happen to feel a bit protective of my senior neighbors, so I’m speaking out on their behalf.
Today was booked for a visit by Joy, the lady that owns the house that we rent. She was most anxious to see the hardwood flooring we put in, especially since Barb, my across the street senior neighbor, had let her know that the floor was a thing of beauty. She had to see it for herself! I got up early this morning, and baked a lemon loaf, using one of the Meyer lemons from Barb’s tree. I always like to bake something special when I have company, under the assumption that this sort of bribery isn’t a crime.
After Joy left, I decided to take the rest of the loaf over to Pauline and Dick, with a small catnip mouse for their cat Kiki. As I climbed the steps on their porch, Dick immediately demanded some of the lemon bread. He enjoyed it so much that he asked for another piece, which had Pauline tut- tutting at him for eating too many sweets. This surprised me, knowing the news he had gotten only a day earlier! After polishing off the second piece, he licked his fingers thoroughly savoring the sweet sticky glaze liberally drizzled on the loaves.
Moments later, a white van pulled up to the end of the driveway. It was a medical supply company, bringing several large oxygen cylinders. It was then I noticed that Dick had a nasal cannula, with a small discrete oxygen tank tucked under his arm. His raspy breathing was a bit of a shock to me, as it hadn’t been there when I was over last week. Suddenly the level of congestion in his lungs became apparent, as he began a paroxysm of coughing, It gave me chills, reminding me of the Striders breathing that Mom endured during her last 18 hours.
I shudder to think of what the near future holds for Dick, Pauline, their quadriplegic son Matt. and their daughter Mary. Where will they all be in another year’s time? Dick will be gone, Pauline will be struggling with her own health, Mary will still have the weighty responsibility that she has always had, as the only healthy and able member of the family. She has her own kids to deal with, teenagers I believe, but they have to take a backseat to situations like this. Many families are forced to uphold this inequity, for the betterment of its frailest members.