A Different Journey

Today’s train car is stuffed with commuters and on this November morning, I realize during October I was in the office about 6 days. On the heels of the western vacation: flight to Denver, drive to Grand Junction, down to New Mexico, off the Mogollon Rim into Tucson via the back roads, then back to Boston, I found myself traversing the familiar miles to Chicago once more. This time, however, some unfamiliar miles were ahead: the making of health and care-giving plans for extended family, a journey that could be its own blog.

But today I’d like to think about some of the small moments of these huge days. There was the woman in the department store before the heavy work began, who asked me if the ring and necklace she was considering matched. Even though I told her I wasn’t an employee, she wanted my view anyway, obviously not knowing I don’t accessorize. Later that same day, the grandfather in the Dollar Store asked me which birthday card he should buy for his grandson who wasn’t really his grandson. I remembered that out here, people simply engage each other in conversation, like it or not. Are strangers really friends we haven’t met yet?

The work of finding home health and hospice care for my mother and the rate of change involved was made so much easier by the graceful, heartfelt support of those in this field. What needed to be known each day became known.  In the moments I needed someone to come alongside, a rap on the door broke the loneliness and make the next moment possible. Friends called, came over, texted, and emailed with prayers, counsel and practical help. My kids checked on me every day. My brother is beyond compassionate and stalwart. Her church community and the neighbors are completely dependable and full of love. As anyone knows who has been there, it’s impossible to thank them all.

Also around my mother now is what I’ve come to call a little United Nations. Two Lithuanians who’ve helped us for weeks light up the room with their presences. Women from Ghana and Nigeria bring their knowledge, faith and care into the home now as family. Our Swedish neighbor is on food alert. As I return home, I rest somewhat easier having seen this circle of support, the team, and the “conductors” in place for the days ahead.

And once back at home, more very little things: the meat tenderizer works to relieve the mattress’ bloody nose; the floss stuck in my teeth way back comes out and, since I’m awake at 4am anyway, I can take the dog out AND remove the tick from my midsection before any dangerous points are reached. Outside, when I look up, the stars are brilliant. Later, when I return to the office, I know my colleagues will continue to be gracious.

Autumn days are upon us all, times change and so do seasons. We should make haste not to “do more” but to see more.  To see in the people around us our common needs and to find, when possible, our capacities to meet them.

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