Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Penance and Absolution

I understand now why so many hospices are run by religious organisations.
It makes sense that people dedicated to their faith would have a vocation to care for complete strangers at the lowest point in their lives, with unconditional devotion.
FL's hospice is secular and he would not have it any other way.
But as the final family dramas play themselves out, I almost wish a last-minute religious conversion for him, so that he might receive the comfort of absolution.
He would be utterly horrified by the idea!
But today I took on the role of... what?
A ministering angel?  I am not that conceited!
A social worker?  That's probably nearer the truth.
There he lies, unable to speak, struggling to swallow a tiny sip of water, too weak to change his own position in bed.  Utterly defenceless.  And people choose this time to deliberately inflict pain by digging up the past.
Now?  You wait until now? Unbelievable.

Yesterday he was in such a state of upset that he refused his medication, shut down communication even with me and tried very hard to wish himself dead.  But it is not that easy, and I told him so.

This morning I swept into his room on a mission.
First of all, I read him an email from his nephew: full of reminiscences of fun times, thanking him for being a "top notch Uncle".
He raised an eyebrow and smiled.
Then I showed him an old photograph (from 1981) and told him what I saw:  a happy family, joking together and enjoying each other's company.  And I reminded him that this was how it was, for so much of the time.  That, OK, it was not perfect and that yes, he had made some mistakes along the way, but that anyone who knew them then would have agreed those children had a fantastic childhood and that he was at the centre of that.  That he was a good father.
I had planned to say so much more, but by that point I was in tears.
He took my hand and kissed it.

When the doctor came to seek permission to administer his pain relief through the syringe driver he agreed.
Hallelujah!

Today I knitted another Vivid blanket square.

33 comments:

Sarahel said...

Whatever you call it you've been brilliant. Your email has facilitated some positive communication and that's provided some emotional relief for FL, and in turn allowed him to accept the pain relief. I'm just sorry that not all communication has been like this.

Hoping the pain relief may mean you find a more peaceful FL tomorrow.

Wakeymakes said...

Isn't it amazing that the pain relief is not just for the receiver. Bless you for trying to rest all the ghosts we all have. You are a wonderful wife and true friend to your FL K xXx

Emma said...

Thank you for sharing your love for FL and this hard time that you are facing together.
I didn't know what to write yesterday, but what I thought was how hard for a fiercely independent and private person to have to face such indiginties. I think that FL was trying to take back some control. I can empathise with him there! Still, there is no need for him to suffer such pain.

seamedstraightforward said...

Life is littered with mistakes for all of us. We have to forgive both ourselves and others. No peace or comfort is found by harbouring resentments and regrets.
I'm with FL. I don't do God. but I do believe in the power of forgiving.
Wishing you both peace, comfort, and freedom from pain, both emotional and physical.
Nephew sounds like a top bloke.
And I LOVE that Blackberry coloured yarn!

Knitlass said...

Well done you. Sounds like just the thing FL needed - and well done to that nephew for his email. It really does help to look at the positives in life, doesn't it?

Oh, and lovely knitting...

Star speckles said...

Well done Roo, you've given him genuine comfort (physically and mentally). I hope it gives you some comfort in turn.

Giving someone back peace of mind is a wonderful thing. You are a marvel, he's lucky to have you.

xx

Massive snaps to nephew too - it's so lovely he's taken the time to write

Alex Kiernan said...

Well done - and continue to take care of yourself, too.

Jennifer Hill said...

Sounds like you've come up trumps again. Coincidently, last week on Radio 4 I listened to a very interesting series of 15 minute programmes called 'Three Score Years and Ten', by Bishop Richard Holloway, in which he mused upon his own and others' mortality and our feelings and attitudes around it. The first episode, 'Looking Back', was around the topic of forgiveness as we near death, of ourselves and of others. He didn't touch on that of others to us; I suppose that is out of our control (poor FL, and you; if things haven't been said before, then now is most certainly NOT the time). Anyway, it's a good listen, and not overtly religious, more philosophical, really. After all, that what religion is really, when all the mumbo jumbo's stripped away. I speak as a confirmed aetheist. This is the link, if you're interested http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ygt2d/episodes/player . Jen

LynneSews said...

Too, your story and FL's is so poignant, and so real. Thinking of you both.

colleen said...

You found a way through. Good, good, good.

MaryinTN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glasto63 said...

Well played you. FL is so lucky having you by his side and on his side.

tim's wife said...

An act of pure love and devotion. Thank you for sharing all this with us. Life is bittersweet. Your experience shows that. I am so glad your mission worked. Well done there, girl.

Louise Perry said...

We all wish we were better than we are. But the description of his family in the photograph sounds like he did all right and that's all any of us could hope for. You are his ambassador and doing a marvellous job. You should be rightly proud of yourself today. Louise x

Susan_in_Peckham said...

How kind of the nephew to send his positive memories :). I'm glad the tough decision re contacting FL's family has resulted I some positives. The negatives can be accidentally deleted, dropped in a puddle, eaten by the dog....

K.Line said...

What an amazing story - and a moment you will carry with you forever. Giving you lots of positive vibes...

MaryinTN said...

Very glad FL received a positive email from his nephew and that he is taking the pain medications as needed. His nephew sounds to be a perfect gentleman. Your post struck a chord in me as family discord happened to us too so I deleted my previous post with the statement in response to your italicized text. It brought up an old wound I thought had healed over nearly a decade ago. Very sorry FL received bitterness and unkindness at his contact with family. I have always tried to see that love and forgiveness heals wounds and love triumphs but as others have said, we all make mistakes in life as no one is perfect. I hope and pray those estranged family members will find peace and love. I hope and pray you and FL will have a peaceful and loving evening. And Hero too.
Xxxxxxx

Sarah said...

Thank the universe that FL has you by his side. A better advocate there never was. He had no need for penance, as I am sure you made clear.

Jodie said...

Roo, I'm thinking of you both. Be well and I will tune in again tomorrow after lunch (in Alberta) to look for the latest news.

Sarah said...

Dear Roo, Thank you for writing so openly about what you and FL are going through right now. I have read your blog for several years now, but even more so recently, and I am praying for you and FL. My heart goes out to you both, and I was glad to hear the results of today, that you were able to ease some of his mental pain, and physical pain as well -- I so admire your steadfast love and strength during such an impossible time. I do "Do God" -- I love Jesus, and I'm so glad that He's in my life and forgiven me, I just had to tell you that He's there for anyone who wants him! I'm praying for both of you for peace of body, soul and mind in this life and in the life to come. One of my favorite parts of the Bible is I John. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.... (I John 1:9) ...if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:1-2)
sarah@forrussia.org

Mapmaker said...

It's very unfortunate that when you reached out to estranged family members they continued to behave badly, but at least you know the outcome. if you had not made those contacts, you might forever have wondered if they could have done better if only they had known the situation, and now you know they couldn't. But it was gracious and right of you to give them the opportunity. Huge props to the nephew. And of course to you, and FL, and the doctors, and the hospice people, and Hero.

paisleyapron said...

The love between you two is so beautiful. So glad FL has you. Praying for perfect peace for him and strength in every way for you. And, geez, you knit some gorgeous things!

Amelia said...

You are, as a Swallow or Amazon would say, a BRICK. Such strength! You will have helped so many people, as well as you and FL, by writing these diaries.

Christine Sweeney said...

On reading your post I was thinking to myself "this is what life is essentially about" these moments when we, one, can actually make a difference. And you did that for FL. Thank you for reminding me we can all make a difference. M-C

sewalign said...

If the hospice has no chaplain, you could contact a vicar/priest to visit if you wished. They have a ministry for people in FL's position and they could offer some comfort and say a prayer for FL and you. A priest came to see my dad in the hospice to do this to him and the family. It was a beautiful moment and my dad's face lit up. Shortly afterwards he passed away in peace. To forgive others and to desire to be forgiven is the key to peace. The love and devotion you have shown to FL has been beautiful. God bless you.

Twelfthknit said...

One option might be to track down an atheist chaplain ( rare but they exist) or possibly a Humanist who might be able to give some support to FL. Forgiveness if that is what he needs is possible without a religious element.

Can't imagine how hard this is for you butt there is ok doubt that you yourself are giving untold love and support. I think you really are handling the situation with FL's other relatives and family really well. You truly make it about FL and not yourself

Caroline H said...

I have never posted before, though I have followed your blog for ages. What you tell us is heartbreaking, even though you manage to be matter-of-fact, at times even chirpy. And then there is all the stuff going on behind the scenes, about which you hint in this post, that must be adding greatly to your grief. We all make mistakes in life, this is not the time to rake them up. There isn't a perfect parent. FL doesn't need forgiveness, whatever that is, just recognition that he is human and therefore fallible - and you have done that. Others who have not will have their consciences to live with. I hope you are looking after yourself as well as him, the boring stuff like eating. Goodness knows how you keep your knitting tension even!

Laura said...

No one is perfect, and I'm so glad that reminding him of good things has helped. It sounds like exactly the right thing to have done, and your mission succeeded :)

Much love xxx

Susie Hewer said...

Well done lovely Roo. No more words, sorry. xxx

LinB said...

Religion as it is expressed in many religious communities is enough to turn anyone away from religion! I am a practicing Christian, who often despairs at the truly evil things that others who define themselves as Christian get up to.

Those of your friends and family and followers who are religious are sending prayers of strength and comfort your way. Those of your friends and family and followers who are not religious are directing their spiritual positive energy toward you and FL.

In the end, at the end, all that is important is love: to love, to know that you are loved. Tell FL that I love him, if you think it will help.

coyotewoman said...

I knew an old General Practitioner when I was a novice nurse who would write an order on the chart for "Tincture of Kindness" or "Tincture of time" as a gentle reminder to staff that a patient's primary need sometimes could not be met with medications, treatments and medical/surgical interventions. You never cease to amaze me Roo. - as in your efforts to relieve FL psychic pain. No magic meds when regret/remorse, sadness, and loss skitter across the consciousness like autumn leaves. Sometimes the secular services of a mental health therapist or social worker can help to navigate the mind-field that is acquired in a lifetime of choices and painfully exposed in end of life introspection and soul searching. They can also intervene as an impartial intermediary with estranged family. Wishing with all my heart for peace of mind and a restful day for you and FL.

greenmtngirl said...

Your instincts are so sound and you are doing so well by your beloved FL, Roo. You are making this passage as good and sweet and peaceful as it can be.

ambermog said...

You my dear Roo are a fabulous caring person, so glad FL has you in his corner. Sending you more positive vibes and strength xx