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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Saturday with Morrie - and Hank.

  We are back home again after a quick little road trip to Alberta.  We try to get there about twice a year to visit my husband's father, Hank, who is in extended care there.

  This year, we combined it with a little trip with my parents.  Dad had wanted to take in "Tuesdays with Morrie", a play based on the well-known book, being held in the tiny community of Rosebud, just outside of Calgary.

  Rosebud is a unique very tiny community, truly a bud if you want to picture it, in a large Alberta rosebush.  Quaint, full of history, restored, and ready to meet the tourist, this community of 100 residents houses a theatre company and school which produces quality productions, and also is a big part of the Passion Play, held in Drumheller every July.

  The draw for us, despite the price, was the subject.  We had all read the book, and very much enjoyed the play which was well done.  Tuesdays with Morrie is the story of a professor who has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), who dying,  and his weekly encounters with a former student turned journalist, and the author of the book, Mitch Albom.

  It is a story about dying, but much more than that, it is a story about living, about relationships, about what is really important in life.  Morrie is a good teacher.  The importance of hugs, of touch, the acceptance of tears, the art of listening, all topics covered in this prof's most important lessons.

  The play seemed to take on new significance for us as well as we visited Steve's dad.  It is very difficult, at times, to parachute into someone's life every few months and re-establish connection.  Phone calls are not possible, or highly difficult, since Hank had a stroke 21 years ago which affected his speech.  When you are miles away, you cannot visit frequently.

  But as I observed father and son, there was communication with the eyes, the strong grip of the hands...

  I've thought about it.  Being there.  That was what was important.  Sometimes words are just not necessary, and the time for them has past.

  I see that in the hospital where I work...I visit those who cannot speak, and wonder about their lives... they are someone's father, or mother, and they hold stories they cannot tell.  And yet they have so much to teach me.  Do I take time to listen?

  We tend, in our society, to avoid the dying,  We tuck our seniors into extended care facilities and walk away into our busy lives.  It is part of our culture.  It is sad I think.  We miss so much... I was so impressed again, as we visited Steve's dad,  the amazing care of the nurses and care-aids who really become family to many of these dear folks.  They know Hank, his day to day habits, his routines.  They spoke to him with respect and humor and dignity.  One said "He's one of our favourites!"

  Sometimes distance keeps us from doing what we really want to do.  But I came away with new eyes to see those in my world that I can touch, that I interact with, those in my community whose families might be miles away.  And again, I'm inspired to make each day count, to live well, for life is short, and precious.

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