Tuesday, January 31, 2006
A time of transitioning
For the past several weeks a dear man from my church has been in the hospital. He's 78 years old; he and his wife have been married for 60 years. I've visited him several times while he's been in the hospital -- reading to him, just visiting with him, taking him a prayer shawl from the church.
I just really care a great deal for this couple. They are still deeply in love, tremendously faithful, good people.
His wife called me early this afternoon to tell me he's now become more critically ill and asked for my help writing his obituary, so I went over to their house and spent several hours with her. Most of the information was already collected. I just put it in newspaper form for them (I first started my career as an obituary writer in 1976 and I've written the obits for my whole family.)
We talked about the plans for the memorial service and I asked her if she would like to do a slide show of photos of Jim's life. She loved the idea and I told her I could take some of her photos and scan them in and put them in some order that would tell the story of his life.
She showed me around the house and the gardens that they built during the 40 years they've lived in their home. She told me many stories that I'll ask the minister to allow us to use in the memorial service.
We fixed grilled cheese sandwiches and salad for dinner, then I went to the hospital to help feed Jim and spend some time with him, to give Barbara a little more time to herself before she came back to the hospital. It's the only time I've written an obituary for someone and then gone to feed them. That was a bit surreal.
This evening I'll be scanning in photos and things like that.
There is such a sweetness to their relationship. They were married at 17 and 19 -- she was still in high school, but Jim married her before he left for the U.S. Navy so she would have his allotment to live on.
I cannot imagine what she will have to go through in the coming days as he transitions past this lifetime with her.