Another life’s daily inspiration
Scarlett and I have found numerous life’s daily inspiration thru our hospice patients and families.
The people we have had the privilege of caring for have touched our lives forever.
Hence, the genesis of our blog; we are asked over and over, “ How do you do it?”
So we have dedicated our website to answer those questions, to share our daily walk while protecting their privacy and well-being and bringing anything of inspiration to our readers.
Let us inspire you today by telling you about Thelma and James.
James was our patient. He was 91 years old and was being cared for by his 88 year old wife Thelma. They had been married for 71 years.
When Thelma was 17 years old, she and James had her parents meet them at the court house to sign papers allowing their young daughter to get married.
Thelma proclaimed she had “loved James since she was fourteen”. She noticed him right away as he was the star player for the basketball team at their school. She often spoke of his “moves” on and off the court.
Thelma had beautiful, piercing blue eyes, as did James. They both said it was love at first sight.
She dedicated herself to James and their three children, Sherry, John, and Karen. Thelma was a proud homemaker, while James became a professional painter and opened his own business.
Their means were modest and their home was full of love.
When James became our hospice patient, he was already weak and frail. Thelma had to assist him to get out of the bed and then walk with him the short distance to his favorite recliner, all the while being mindful of his oxygen tubing.
James was 6 foot 3 and Thelma 5 foot. She would dress him, feed him, bathe him and give him his medicine with pride. He belonged to her, and she belonged to him; everyone knew this.
Their primary goal was to keep and care for James in their home. James wanted to pass in their “marital bed”.
Sadly one day Thelma fell in their kitchen and fractured her hip requiring surgery. She was in the hospital, then in rehab for many weeks.
James and Thelma were grieving; they had never spent a night away from each other.
Their children took turns staying with James and caring for him. They even took James to see Thelma at the hospital and then at the rehab facility as long as he could tolerate it. Sadly, the day came when James became completely bed bound.
Thelma tried to speak to James on the phone but he was so hard of hearing that it just frustrated them both.
Finally, after many weeks, Thelma got to go home.
James was her drive and strength to get better. She wanted to resume her role as Caregiver.
He still belonged to her!
Thelma was shocked and devastated to see how he had changed, now bedridden, speaking only a few words and in a whisper. The worst part for Thelma: he no longer knew who she was.
Thelma fell into great depression. No medicine could help her broken heart.
Her children then broke the news to Thelma that it was time for she and James to move in with their son John and his wife. They were the healthiest of their children and best able to care for them. They also lived two hours away.
Thelma sobbed as she was explaining to Scarlett and I. They had lived in this home for 57 years and her best friend that happened to be her sister was her neighbor. Imagine how heavy Thelma’s heart had to be!
Everything in her life was turned upside down, and she couldn’t even discuss with James; his dementia was too advanced.
For the next several weeks, as the children went thru their belongings – sorting thru the pictures, quilts, and deciding who gets what. Thelma became somewhat stronger, assuming her role of the matriarch she had once been.
She was directing orders to the children and grandchildren, as she was lovingly caring for her husband of all these years and would tell everyone “He still belongs to me ALWAYS!”
I happened to witness something so touching that I could not fight back my tears. I will never forget what I saw.
I had just walked in James bedroom. He was lying in the hospital bed. The lights were dim and all you could hear was his oxygen concentrator running.
James and Thelma’s wedding picture and bible were there on the night stand.
I then heard Thelma as she was walking in the bedroom say “He is still mine always”.
Immediately James began singing a song called ‘Always’.
Thelma looked with disbelief and began sobbing, holding James’ hand and patting his face.
She explained that James sang that song to her on their wedding day at the court house.
James passed away 2 days later; was able to pass in their bed as he wished.
Scarlett and I hope you have enjoyed one of our many hospice inspirational stories.
We would really appreciate it if you would share your thoughts about Thelma and James or one of your life’s daily inspiration.
Elaine and Scarlett