by Carmen Moize, RN, Patriot Hospice
The day room was bustling with activities, this was a usual finding here at the town’s assisted living facility. Seems the only people that frequent here are the workers and an occasional group of young Sunday School kids singing children’s music to the top of their lungs.
On these occasions, the old folk sit back and listen with a smile at the life and youth brought forth by these young children. It was on a day like this that I happened to be making a visit to one of my hospice patients.
I had extra time today and was determined to spend some quality time with my special 88-year-old WWII veteran patient. His mind was clear, but his body was failing him quickly.
I entered the room to find him sitting in his wheelchair and gazing intently up at the clear blue sky. I walked up and placed my hand on his shoulder, looking outward in the same direction with him. There was a light flickering in his eyes today, a bit of a sparkle that I hadn’t noticed before. He knew I was there to spend time with him and as promised I would sit and talk for a while today.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
He looked up at me through his now grey eyes and simply replied “I was thinking of the war, flying fighter jets to be exact.”
I took his hand and sat beside him, my chest filled with pride. I felt like the luckiest person in the world as he began to share his story. Tears filled his eyes as he began to speak. He said I was the only person to ask him about his “story.”
I was baffled to hear this and in that very moment I realized my heart and my time belonged to this generation. He saw the disbelief in my face. He just chuckled and said, “You see, it seems the more our health, hearing and sight diminish, the more we diminish in the sight of the people around us.”
So many of our elderly, not to mention veterans, sit alone day in and day out, living history books waiting to be read.
Our veterans are dying at a rate of 492 per day. It becomes increasingly easy to get stuck in the routines of our daily lives and lose sight of “the greatest generation that ever lived.” Let’s all do ourselves a favor and get involved with volunteering with this honorable group of men and women who were willing to give all for this country.
We are extremely lucky to be able to give our time to them, as well as to receive any part of their life history that they are willing to share. Life is beautiful and it be-comes magical when you hear about the world and life from a higher point of living and understanding.