I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks. I have been very busy, but also needing time to sort my thoughts and feelings.
Our ward recently had 8 older people needing serious help – one was in the hospital, 2 had just been released and the other 5 were in various recuperating stages that still required a bit of outside help with meals and tasks around the house. At first I volunteered us because I love the Relief Society President and she was struggling. Both counselors were out of town, her secretary is on bed-rest for a threatened pregnancy, and her compassionate service leader was just called to Primary, and has not been replaced yet. Can you see why I felt so sorry for her? =)
From July 29 until August 10, Mr. Bug and I had the honor and privilege to go to a couple’s home in the ward that needed physical help until the family came in. I volunteered us for this assignment because I have been a Certified Nurses Assistant and knew what I could expect when I went in.
This sweet couple has struggled for years to be independent – she has Cerebral Palsy and diabetes. We fixed her meals, took her sugars, gave her her meds and insulin, helped her to clean up and shower, go to the bathroom, and helped her to bed. We did dishes, laundry, mopping, tidying up and let the dog out for the night. We listened to her fears of anything ranging from J. dying to how to pay the bills. She also was afraid of what was coming and required some spiritual comfort and re-affirmation that the Lord was aware of them and loved them. Several times tears were shared together as we listened and talked about the Plan of Salvation and prayed for them to feel the Savior’s love as they were sheltered in the hollow of His hand.
He took care of her for years, but was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and when they opened him up during surgery, they were unable to operate since it had spread so far, and they closed him up and said it was only a matter of time. Of course as cancer takes over, the person gets weaker and weaker and wracked with horrible pain. At the end of their life, usually even the pain killers like morphine are no longer as effective and it is a hard way to go. J. was in this stage when we went in to help care for him. We would help him take his evening meds, wash him up, feed him, help him use the restroom, change his clothes, put him to bed (which usually was his recliner.) J. was afraid to die. We talked with him – comfort him about dying and pray with him that the ministering angels would hold him up, that he would feel the love of our Savior and our Father, that he would find comfort in knowing that he was never alone. Those were some of the sweetest moments of pure ministering a person can have.
J. passed away the night after their family got here. They were able to spend the one night with him – his last night at home on this earth. He got to die at home. I am so glad! J. also had several spiritual experiences that helped him to feel calm and look forward with peace to going home.
At his funeral, his best friend K. talked about how J. loved to work outside. He loved to mow lawns and earned money by doing yard work. In June, when K. stopped to visit J. on his way to do some fence work at the farm, as he was leaving, J. threw the blanket off his knees, tottered over to his shoes and slipped them on. He insisted that he needed to help K, so off they went. K. shared how he had to help J. with the trimmers as they were trimming the saplings out of the fence. Several times he asked J. if he wanted to rest in the truck. Finally J. said that he was fine – that “the work was good for his soul.”
Those words brought tears to my eyes at the funeral. I have to say that I enjoy doing this kind of work. I am good at the physical needs – I can see what needs to be done and am not afraid to do it. I love being able to take someone in need of this kind of care and ease their burdens by helping them to be clean, comfortable and feel loved. I knew that we could do it, so we did. But there is a bonus in doing it in someone’s home where we can truly meet all their needs. As we also ministered to them spiritually, I felt the pure love of the Savior for these sweet, simple people. I know that He is aware of them – and of me. Because indeed, as J. said,
“The work is good for my soul.”