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Saturday, November 19, 2016

OUR HEARTS WERE BROKEN BUT OUR SOULS REFRESHED


As a member and co-chair of the Guardianship Committee, I have to at times get involved when someone is dying who has a disability that the agency is a guardian for. Often, when one dies, I feel it is important to go to the funeral if there is one. Recently was one such case.

I drove out to Wading River on Long Island and after a gloomy rain soaked day the day before, this Autumn day seemed like a spring morning, with the color and tints of the warm colors of Fall to dress the road as I traveled to say goodbye to an old and loveable friend.

Reaching the funeral home, I entered and there in his coffin lay David, a man who I have known for over 25 years. Funky, funny, a character of sincere and simple opinion, the dread of entry turned into an immediate leap of joy. In his death, the staff had captured David and what he was. On a side table were seven different hats he always wore at one time or another, and in his open casket was another, placed by his head. Overlooking him from the closed portion of the casket, like a real dog would look, was his stuffed doggie, the one he took to my house so many years ago when he entered, placed it on the floor next to his chair and said: It $#i+ all over the bus! He was salty, and that was a reminder that he was very much a human.

David was a teacher. I grew up with David as a board member. When I entered the agency's Intermediate Care Facility with my daughter Ellen for the first time to live other than our home, I met David, his eyes closed from blindness, but his ears attuned like sonar, he knew what was going around him at all times. This man taught me that my agenda had to change, that I was a board member not for Ellen but for everyone, a lesson I have taken to heart for over 25-years.

But in the funeral parlor where I went to say my last goodbye, he was visited by about 20 people. If you die and wonder how many attended, ask not about the number, ask instead about how many loved you. David had a full house of those who loved him.

Someone asked me to share some David stories, and of course, I couldn't wait to, he was a source of constant joy in all he did and said. He had remarkable sensory abilities, belying his blindness, amazing people with his uncanny ability to tell one what color they were wearing, just by the touch of his fingers.

Somewhere in Heaven, they prepared a place for David, one without wheelchairs, helmets to protect his head from head trauma if he should fall, where food is the life of eternity and joy will be his name.

Goodbye David, we all loved you then as we do now.

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