“I know people will be happy when I am gone” a resident told me some time ago. He acknowledged he had done wrong to many people; people that the resident was supposed to love, care and protect. Now, unable to be a thread or a menace to anyone, and after perhaps months of reflection knowing that his life was notably coming to an end, he saw no hope for restauration or forgiveness. No one would come to visit him. He was patiently awaiting for his turn to depart.
I could see in his eyes a desperate call to connect with someone, to be heard and to be forgiven. Indeed, my position allows me to hear the depths of a soul in need, but I am sure many of you have perceived communications of this kind.
I visited with him many times, his mind was clear, and his resignation was obvious. His family wasn’t going to come, he wasn’t going to have an opportunity to ask for forgiveness, and to tell you the truth, I am not sure if he was able to ask for it. But one thing I know the pain in his soul was bigger than the pain in his body, the bitterness in his heart was more crippling than his condition, and our conversations were better than any medication, because I was connecting with him in the realm of human reality.
Many people wait until the end to make it right, and sometimes it is too late. By then, they are too frail and in need of constant care, they get admitted to our home and we become the people they will see for the rest of their lives. From the time they arrive we care for them, learn their names and help them within our different functions. We all become part of the Palliative Team Care.
Either if we acknowledge it or not our care goes beyond administrating medication, or making beds, or transporting residents from the bed to the wheelchair. Our interaction encompasses the very essence of human care and dignity. It encloses hope of a peaceful departure. We cannot escape this; it is intrinsic to our labour. We cannot separate our duties from the human touch.
I knew he needed the human touch more than ever. God has created us to love and be loved, apart from this there is only loneliness and bitterness. I believe we all should have one more chance to make it right. And so I spoke to his heart from my heart, talked to him about the forgiveness that comes from God, and true peace came to his life. He told me then, he was ready to go.
Within the next couple of days he found himself in the hospital, where I went to see him. He could not form words anymore but with wide opened eyes held my hand firmly. I prayed with him for the last time; a prayer releasing him unto his journey ahead. He passed away alone that same evening.
I understand my role is much different than yours. Perhaps you will never have the opportunity to converse with a resident about the issues of their soul and heart, but if we have in mind that as soon as a resident is admitted we become people they see more often than their own family, then we might understand the power of love and acceptance that we carry within every time we interact with them. They might see us like a son or daughter, friend or relative who has forgiven them, who are giving them another chance with no strings attached; a person who is redeeming a resident’s life before the final goodbye.
Indeed, one of my favorite drawing, and one that has so much history with the exposure of my art. This one was exposed on the Visual Elements 55, a yearly juried exhibition of the Woodstock Art Gallery; with this piece I began my artistic career.
Pay attention to this rose, and you will see more than just a flower. Look and it will transform into a girl who is dancing, her hands and foot are calla lilies. This girl is looking away from us, and from her head a beautiful rose grows and within flowers are blooming.
One day, on our way back from a funeral, we stopped at a restaurant in Mennonite country. There were so many young people serving the meals. They were full of life and joy; what a contrast from the funeral! At the moment I was single, so when I got home I prayed to God with my pencil as I drew this picture. It represents the purity of life, the essence of innocence and godliness. It represented the lady I was to marry and how I requested her to the Lord… with pure thoughts as flowers blooming in her mind, delicate and sincere, beautiful and wonderful.
On the background you will find some writing, these are the letters I sent to my family and friends the day the Lord opened my eyes to meet the lady I was to marry