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Saturday, 6 June 2015

Keeping it real with Frizzy Lizzy

Keeping it real with Frizzy Lizzy

I have a friend by the name of Yolanda. She died this morning, very early. Before the sun came up, she went out. She was 86 in terms of Earth-years. She is now in a place where time does not mean anything.

I cannot say that I had a friend because I so not believe that she no longer exists. Indeed, I believe that she does still exist. She may have died in this world, but she has gone on to a better existence in another place. She is at a party where the potato chips are not soggy, and the beer has not been watered down.

Yolanda and I have been friends for what passes for a lifetime in this world's view. She took to me as I did to her and the fact that there is a twenty-two-year difference in our ages made very little difference to us.

About seven years ago she had a stroke that robbed her of sight in her right eye, much of her hearing, her balance, and her physical strength. She was always a vigorous woman who loved every animal the Lord saw fit to create. Her yard became a feeding place for crows, seagulls, robins, doves, flickers, chickadees, cardinals, skunks, raccoons, weasels, feral cats, and anything else that was hungry.

She must have been a pioneer in the field of pet therapy because it was at least thirty years ago that she took two of her dogs to visit those in need of a companion in local nursing homes and the hospital. She did that for twenty-one years! If you happen to see an entry in the Wikipedia for a “pet lady,” please read on and see if Yolanda's picture is not somewhere in the article.

The old girl was what I call a “shit-stirrer-upper.” That differs from a “shit disturber” by quite a bit. A “disturber” starts a fight simply for the sake of seeing the misery and discord it generates. A “stirrer-upper” will shake the status quo, but only for a good reason. And so it is in the village where she made her home for thirty-seven years that Yolanda stirred shit and the village installed a central drinking water and sewage disposal system. It's because of her instigation that things are cleaner and safer there.

I was living in Vancouver, British Columbia when Yolanda had her stroke. Although she told us of her stroke in phone calls, she was not one to dwell on what she had lost as a result of it. I did not know what it had done to her until I returned to Ontario six years later.

When I got back, I found an older, somewhat bent-over Yolanda. She still had her sense of humor, but it was darker, more of a “gallows humor” than it had been. We became quite close when she was preparing to leave her house to sell it and move into a nursing home. It was no secret that she had physical disabilities, and I adjusted my thinking to deal with blindness, deafness, and needing a cane to move about safely. That was easy. Even her state of dementia was not hard to handle. I looked upon all that hindered her as physical disabilities and treated her as I would hope to be treated myself.

It took very little time to form a routine of seeing her at least twice a week, once to take her shopping, and once to visit her at home to see how she was doing. I also came whenever she called me. She was judicious about that because she did not want to wear me out. But I never felt like she was intruding. I am retired. Where am I going that I cannot share the time with her?

Yolanda came to trust me as a business and financial advisor and confidant, and I accepted that position with great humility and gratitude. It's not every day that someone trusts anyone not to talk their private business with others. I also had the passwords and PINs for her ATM and credit cards, and I treated that like the sacred trust that it was.

Whenever she got something in the mail that she did not understand (and that was quite often), she would call me. We would sit together to read it. I would then interpret it into informal diction Canadian English, and tell her if it would cost her anything to respond to it, or if it meant money coming into her accounts.

What I have been trying to say through all of this is that Yolanda's friendship and trust are two of the finest gifts I have ever had the privilege to receive. They rank with those that my late father showed me, and I love him dearly, too.

In her last weeks, Yolanda had many physical setbacks. She fell one morning while she was doing one of the things that she loved to do. She was line dancing! She fell flat on her face, literally, and got a knot on her forehead that was the size of a goose egg. That landed her in the hospital. The fall injured her neck, hands, arms, and shoulders, and the doctors were afraid that she had broken her neck. Many X-rays, MRI exams, and tests later they determined that her neck was alright, but she was still unable to walk, sit in a chair, or hold anything in her hands.

She was in the hospital for about three weeks. Her stay was protracted and complicated by pneumonia. That did her in. Although she was released to return to her bed at the nursing home, she never bounced back. She just became progressively weaker and died to this world. But she began a new life in the next with all of the pets that she loved so dearly, every one of them waiting on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

I did not write this because I needed to take stock of my friendship with Yolanda or my belief in the after-this-life. I wrote this in the hope that you might see the value in befriending an older person, be it one in your family or an unrelated friend. I received far more from our friendship than she could have ever guessed while she was in this world. I had the chance to be a trusted friend, confidant, and to serve someone who had served so many others. That is reward enough for me. If the opportunity to be a friend and to serve presents itself to you, please consider taking it. Let yourself smile within because you are making the life of an elderly person that much more meaningful and pleasant for them. If you do that, you will have a smile on your face to show your friend and the world that they, and your service to them, are truly a blessing.

By Paula Koval

Thank you so much for letting me share this with you. Have a wonderful week!

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great day.

In Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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