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kindness brings a casserole for dinner


swilkinson

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I was half way through chat and had a visitor come so I excused myself and left Hostsarah in charge…good for you Sarah! My visitor was an old friend who desperately wanted to help me out during this current crisis so she had made us a casserole (beef stew) and a fruit loaf to cut if visitors drop in over the long weekend.

 

It is such an old-fashioned thing to do that it reminded me of my Mum’s generation who arrived at births, deaths and sudden illnesses armed with a casserole and a beef tea and a bevy of home made remedies. As they left the house they carted off the smaller children and the laundry and anything else they could carry. It was the way a community reacted to a crisis, feed and nourish those going through it and restore life’s balance again.

 

When did we stop being a community and start being people who lived in houses, flats and apartments and never bothered to get to know their neighbours? When did the underlying neighborliness that people felt as responsible citizens break down into food stamps and welfare and a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness? Shouldn’t our communities rally round someone who needs help? When did that stop?

 

I was taught by my mother to look out for the neighbours, those little old widows that lived alone needed fresh fruit and vegetables from our garden, a hand cleaning their windows, someone to pick up their parcels from the post office. They needed an afghan rug for their knees, some warm woolen socks, a man to mow, or clip the hedge or fix a leaky tap. They needed community support. It might take a village to raise a child; it also takes the same village to look after the old.

 

Ray isn’t old and helpless but he does need a lot of help. Mainly I do this all by myself with a little help from Trevor and the community services people when I hit a crisis like now. We live in a society where people pay taxes and then when they need help they get it in the form of homecare, so our shower nurses and respite people are paid for out of government coffers with a small co-pay from the care recipient. So I just need to qualify for the help I need. This is done by assessment but anyone coming now can see I need help as Ray’s mobility is severely compromised. I am hoping that will improve and then I will let the extra help go and go back to my former package.

 

Maintaining people like Ray in their own home rather than a nursing home is cost-effective. I am here all the hours the carers aren’t, so if I get a carer for an hour there are 23 hours when I look after him by myself. It is not hard when you break it down. It is mealtimes, tv time, exercise time, nap time etc. The shower is once a day and the rest of the time I care for him alone.

 

I was laughing with our male careworker this morning. He asked me how I coped. I said that I can do a lot of things he can’t do. “Like what?” he asked. I told him that when I get Ray up off the toilet I say: “Hug your wife tight.” So he puts his arm around my neck and by feel I pull up his underwear and his trousers. Then he takes his arm away and I make sure he has his stick and help him walk forward. I said: “If you did that you would probably be up on charges.” And he laughed.

 

Getting the care I need is proving harder than we thought as I need two workers for the shower time as Ray is temporarily two person assist. This means two people are here for the first half an hour then one goes off to another client and one stays here. I am not sure how long this is going to be for but I guess someone will judge when he is walking okay and balancing alone and then we will go back to one person again.

 

All this would have been avoided if Ray had been hospitalized when he had the fall. Then the services would have been funded as “aftercare” with a lot more people involved and I would not have had to do all the organizing. There is a kind of irony about all of this. The squeaky wheel gets the most oil so because I am fairly self-sufficient we are not seen as people in a crisis so I don’t get the help I need. And because I don’t get the help I need I am more likely to break down and have to put Ray into care (SNF) which in the long run is less cost-effective. Make you wonder if there is any thought that a little help now will save a lot of money in the future?

 

And so back to the story of my visitor: she discussed the issues with her doctor son this morning expressing that she wanted to help more. He said: “You are too old to help Mum”. Which of course is not true. A casserole is a great help. Tonight I can do some other job instead of cooking an evening meal. My friend Gwen has taken that load off my shoulders by providing us with dinner. God bless her and all those like her.

 

So I am hoping hat the weakness Ray is experiencing is a side effect of the small stroke on the 30th May and not something else. I am hoping if I keep getting him up by myself that it will retrain his brain and he will once again get up by himself. If the weakness is either the stroke or from the shock of the falls then it should gradually disappear. If none of this happens I am going to have to look at the future and work out if I can cope for the next while and if not what I will need to put into place to do so.

 

I have managed to look after Ray for over twelve years, a few more will be possible if I can get some help. There is no real reason that he cannot remain in the house he built and sit on the verandah for many sunny days yet. As long as I stay strong and organize things so I don’t break down or burn out.

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You don't see that outpouring of support from the community in general, but you do see it in churches. When I stroked, the women's organizations within our church, the Sunday school staff, the Daughter's of the King group, and the ladies of several of the committees, inundated us with casseroles, helped clean and do laundry, "babysat" me, drove me places if Sam had to work, called to check up on me every couple of days, really jumped in and took up the supporting role, like they did in my grandmother's generation.

 

It's a shame that we, as a society, have gotten so far away from that. No adays, when we go through a crisis and people say, "if you need anything, call me," they are really just being polite. They secretely hope you won't call.

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I think we lost much in this country as our families dispersed to all corners of the globe. Communities once were extended families that often had generations of common ground. Multi-generational families in the same area, let alone the same home, are a scarce treasure in the U.S. It's one of the things that will be taken away from new immigrants as they assimilate into this culture that values a good salary as proof of success and Independence in a far away city, more than the comfort and support of keeping close to our family. I think we lost our communities to airplanes, phone calls and our independent attitudes. We're paying for it now and have to make a conscious effort to achieve a fraction of what was once a common way of life. I think it's especially difficult for people that don't have a supportive community within their community; like a church or other organization through which people know the need of a member. Thanks for leading me to reflect on this. I think I'll call my mom back East today from Alaska. :(

Lisa

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Sue: I feel for you but want to remind you that I know God is in control. I say the serenity prayer daily and try to live in today and let tomorrow's worry stay in the future. None of us know what the future will bring. You are doing a fantastic, very difficult job. With stroke or any other disability, it is what it is. We cannot predict if it will get better or not. That is why living for today is a much better stress-free way to handle things. My prayers are with you. I'm glad your friend brought you dinner. If she spreads the word, hopefully others will do the same for you. Leah

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I don't know how life is there where you are Sue, but here in the USA it has become a dog eat dog type of world. For the most part the only way people help people is if there is finacial gain for the helper.

 

People have forgotten how good it can make you feel to help someone out that needs it just for the heck of it. At times I am ashamed of the type of society we have become when we have forgotten those in need.

 

All my hopes and prayers for you and Ray.

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Sue, I think here it depends on the neighborhood/church you are with. When Larry was in the hospital last year, a neighbor fed the cats and shoveled our driveway since it was February. Last spring neighbors from their church came and did some outside yard work for us. This was part of an annual project of helping those in need. We were lucky to be neighbors of those who belonged to this church. We had friends offer to come sit and one friend came and cleaned out our gutters last year. A couple of friends bought pizza and a salad one day for lunch. This was all in the early months of Larry's post stroke.

 

We are lucky here if someone comes home from the hospital and they qualify for Medicare. You can usually get help with home therapy, shower aides and nurses. I don't know what I would have done without that help last year.

 

We had a close knit neighborhood where we lived before moving here 7 years ago. I had lived in the same area for 38 yrs, and that makes a difference. The neighbors there all helped each other when needed. It is a different story here, although I have received help when Larry first had his stroke. Other neighbors and church members, however, have not even come to visit or telephone. I don't understand this. :uhm: I was reluctant to get a "home helper" last year after all therapy ran out, but the kids talked me into it. I am also lucky to get this help through Larry's Long Term Care Insurance. The kids can only help when they are off work and they have their own families to take care of.

 

I hope you get the help you so need.

 

Take care and I pray that Ray keeps getting stronger in his recovery.

:friends:

Julie

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Sue,

It's amazing that regardless of the hardships you are facing, your blogs and posts are always heartwarming.

You are such an inspiration to all!

Best Regards,

Eva

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Sue: I remember growing up. I lived in a small town and all neighbors needed and took care of each other. If one of the neighbors told me to jump, I had better say how high. Those days are gone. We have no clue who are neighbors are because everyone is working, children come home from school to empty houses and told to keep the doors locked. This is where society has gone.

 

I am lucky with those who still continue to come and offer help even 2 years now post stroke. And my neighbors are always on the lookout for us. The older ones send food at Easter and Christmas-an old Italian tradition that I am so thankful for and Cliff and Gloria often show up with a casserole. Cliff and his Mom are relocating this summer to AZ where Cliff's sister lives. He can no longer take care of the house, work full time and take care of Mom. Last winter did him in. Gloria is going to use my new winter snow clearing team as she has had enough. Even with all of Cliff's equipment and the three of us working together, this past winter just showed us all how much more difficult this will be in the future.

 

I continue to pray for you and Ray every day. I hope your assistance is granted soonest and that you could maybe find a Day Care for Ray in the Spring that can accomodate his wheelchair, not require him to walk, just for a few hours. BR issue can be resolved with Depends if only for a few hours. Best, Debbie

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Sue, You are such a inspiration. Ray is one lucky man.

My prayers go out to u both.

God states we ask to little of him all the time and rely on him. May your request be answered and you receive miracles.

remembertolaugh, Jeannie :cocktail:

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