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SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

No one wanted this -- but it is here

Published on -2/20/2013, 12:52 PM

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Every day of every week, all across this nation, sad scenes are enacted by those of our citizens who have lost some of their most precious physical and mental faculties.

One of these human beings is Josephine, who stares defiantly around the room as she explains her situation.

"I just got in on the bus, and I'll be all right if you'll just take me to my family."

No one answers, so presently she adds: "All of you are witnesses that I was here because you saw me here. They're holding me against my will."

Standing nearby is Russell, who has slept night and day for about a week, but is wide awake this evening as he tells a nurse: "I don't have my billfold so I can't pay for food or a room. I can't stay here."

Assured he has a room, he rejoins: "I don't have because I haven't any billfold and can't pay for anything. Just call my son, Don, and he'll come and get me."

A second woman, Frances, is defiantly vocal: "You lie. You're all liars. You know that hospital food is crap. You're lying to me. I think you're all stupid."

She tosses a pile of napkins under the table and bangs her hand angrily on the table, glaring defiantly. "I'll give you a week and, if you don't shape up, I'll have your jobs."

Veronica becomes restless as bedtime approaches. "I need to go home," she says, "I parked my pickup outside and I'm going to leave now."

Told that she can't go home, she adds, "My husband, Bob, will be here soon and he'll know what to do."

Bob doesn't arrive and Veronica's thoughts turn to a nearby woman who is sitting in a chair.

"This is my friend, Pat," she announces, sitting down beside the chair.

A nurse tells Veronica that this isn't her friend Pat, but instead is named May.

"No, her name is Pat," Veronica responds. "We live in the same town and have been friends since childhood."

May pays no attention to those around her, but stares into the distance with vacant eyes as she chants, "Please help me. Please help me, please. Please help me, please."

Asked what she wants, May doesn't answer but instead repeats "Please help me, please," to the great aggravation of those nearby.

There are few happy endings in this world where the elderly live after they have lost their most precious abilities -- the abilities that distinguish their personalities as independent people who have not only a present but a future.

Some no longer can feed themselves. Others can't walk without help or are confined to walkers and wheelchairs. Many need help going to the toilet, so for these immobile people, a lift is necessary to accomplish this.

For too many, their mental faculties have deteriorated to the point where they cannot fend for themselves.

This world of sadness is visited by many such people, along with their saddened relatives, on every week of every year when they realize a beloved relative no longer can function in the world that all have known and enjoyed.

So they are taken to a place where they can be helped, watched over night and day, and fed and clothed. No one wanted this to happen, but it has.

However, there is a bright spot in this land of pathos. The homes where these people now live are filled with people who care about them. They see smiles and they feel hugs of affection, whether or not they can appreciate them. Their health is checked regularly and they are spoon fed if necessary.

We can be thankful that, amid these scenes of life's harshness, these people are fortunate to be cared for lovingly by those dedicated nurses and aides who bring sunshine into their sad final years.

Darrel Miller lives near Downs in rural Osborne County and is a retired weekly newspaper editor.

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