Friday, February 12, 2016

The Final Gift

I suppose I have another book to write one of these days -- after I finish the one after the one after the one I am writing now. I worked many years doing hospice counseling and I could tell you some stories about the final hours and moments of life. One in particular I am thinking about.

She was younger -- late 50's. Loving husband. Devoted teenage kids. She had been battling breast cancer for 15 years. She was determined to the win the battle, but she was losing. The day she decided to go on hospice was the day she decided she would take no more treatments. She was tired. She only wanted comfort care. 

As her social worker, it was one of my goals to help her to find the peace in that decision. She was terrified of dying. With the support of the hospice team, she was able to come to terms with it as the end of her life on earth loomed closer and closer. 

I didn't know it would be my last visit, but it was. I entered her bedroom and she was in bed, surrounded by a dozen people who loved her. She was slipping in and out of consciousness. At one point she had her eyes closed, but her expression looked as if she was listening to someone who was teaching her something she had never known before. She was obviously amazed. Her forehead would frown and then raise in wonder and amazement. Over and over again.   

All of a sudden she went quiet. We all looked intently at her. We watched for her breath to come. It did. She slowly opened her heavy eyes, looking around the perimeter of her bed at each and every face that was looking back at her. No one said a word. 

"I am loved and protected," she said earnestly, dreamily. "Don't worry about me. I am safe.... I am so safe."  She closed her eyes and she was gone. 

Gone From Our Sight. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Raising the Bar in Reading and Writing

I have been reading and writing all of my life.  My first job was with the Marcellus Public Library at the age of 14 and, while I was not a particularly strong high school student, I eventually came to score 99% on my English Regents Multiple Choice Exam. I wanted to be an English teacher, but in the late 1970's the field was full to capacity and my guidance counselor pushed me in another direction. My career path ultimately took me into Social Work... but reading, writing and teaching continued to be my passion. 

Over time I became a better reader and then I naturally because a better writer too. By the time I was reading the great philosophers, my writing had improved in tandem, along with my reading skills and comprehension. I learned to thrive on learning things I never knew before and validate the things I knew that had never been put into words for me before. I found myself seeking books that contained great knowledge, truth and perspective. I entered a pathway of growth that has no end. 

Now as I move forward with the writing of more books, I strive to always create the kind of books I want to read. Books with lessons scattered throughout and the ability to change the reader's perspective by its end, if not sooner. It is exciting for me to learn that many of the readers of my book, "Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master" have highlighted, taken notes and read and re-read the book to discover the pearls of knowledge they may have missed the first time they read it. 

Life is all about love.  Life is designed to teach us to love and be loved.  Sometimes we learn what we need to learn from our experiences with other people, relationships with our pets and our connection with nature. Sometimes we learn what we need to grow from the pages of a really good book.  Life is the School Love is the Lesson. 

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