Months To Years Fall 2018 Months To Years Fall 2018 - Page 28

fostering even after her husband’s death in his 40s. The Those kisses on her cheek would have cost me my social stubbornness of her loving heart kept her gathering in boys work license if anyone had reported them. Such physical until she was no longer physically able. Some of the young contact is considered unethical, too. men went on to have healthy, happy lives and some didn’t, as is the way with human beings, but she gave each I believed that providing Ruth with a moment of physical of them the best start she could. affection made her feel like a whole person. I could see her blossom when I did it. So, I chose to ignore the social work It was Ruth’s lifelong habit of taking in strangers that ethic that outlaws skin-to-skin contact. resulted in her cancer going untreated until it was too late to save her. Because of her kind and trusting nature, As the cancer ate more and more of Ruth’s face, her when she got old she allowed a homeless man to live in speech became much more difficult to understand. her house. He not only exploited her financially but also Because I saw her every week, because she told the same failed to take her to the doctor even after her facial erosion stories over and over, and because I listened for a living, know exactly how Ruth was rescued were not used from to him and taken for medical treatment, but g each other often, I believe that the Roman ng separated after Catholic Diocese got umatic struggle involved. first ave the marriage, Ruth was the a devout en to part for e of our Charismatic children. Catholic and that any illness diagnosis believed added a would be cured if she just had layer of enough chaos to Throughout faith. motionally-charged her decline she refused to she was sick. It’s apter in believe our lives. we could still have conversations It’s acceptable for hospice staff to have tears in our eyes sometimes. It shows that we have compassion for our patients and their families . . . But, to survive, we also have to find a way to stay calm amid all the suffering we see. “ became undeniable. I don’t “ “ possible, though I can’t know for sure, that this might partly have been due to the cancer invading her brain. At any “ as her vocal deterioration worsened. The last time I saw her alive, she said, “Ehl ee aow ee,” which meant, “Tell me about me.” I told her every story she had ever told me, while she sat in her wheelchair, rocked with laughter, and hit the arm of the chair in glee. “I will remember you,” I said. “I will never forget.” One of Ruth’s foster sons and his bride had come back to Tucson to be her caregivers when the rate, whenever her cancer cost her something she loved— homeless man was evicted. After her death they threw an like being banned from the public swimming pool because old-fashioned Irish wake, with her closed coffin in the living of her open wound—she would ask me why and I would room. say it was happened, s, the same tan because she was sick. Every time this Malignant meant she would look at me with her sweet brown eyes, still the wasn’t until they played “Taps” at Ruth’s graveside casins with tassels cancer. Cancer It was bad. same above the ruin of her face, and say, “Am I sick?” service that I broke down, not into tears alone, but into John used to wear, From my experiences the kind of sobs that close your body in around your heart ame Argyle black- with it, cancer One of the things I did to reinforce Ruth’s personhood was and was make you almost double over. I was horrified, but I gray socks, the each week on the steadily-decreasing to kiss and her goodbye stop. I thought of bolting for my car but decided usually lethal. couldn’t But the skin above the growing vacancy where her cheek used on to the that would make the situation even more about me. dark brown floppy voice phone be. I wanted her to experience some physical contact that e. But there are no kept going, expecting was not happening because of hands-on personal care. s of gray like John’s me to keep up with the 28 in his d no dimple particulars she rattled He is so very much off. It amounted to one