Thursday, April 20, 2017


In my work as a board member and because I work on the Guardianship committee, I have the unfortunate duty of dealing with death. Many times, the people we deal with have developmental disabilities and also have no family. How sad is it in life not to have a family member around, someone you can call a mother or father or sister or brother? A distant cousin would be nice too.

All too often some of the gentle souls pass on due to their physical condition, allowing for no one except the incredible staff that comprises the Guardianship committee. Hospital visits, home visits, and even court visits need our staff, and they respond time and time again, all hours of the day or night.

When someone does die, it leaves a pall across the guardianship landscape, as we ponder what suffering or loneliness they may have experienced, along with their fears as they died. We try to visit, help them enjoy their lives until the final days, but as much as we do, it doesn't seem like enough to me. I wish I could hold their hands and tell them someone is with them, someone cares.

AS you enter the local cemetery, on your right off the main road, there stands a tall oak tree. It is important as trees go since it is a marker as to where Paul lies buried. Paul was a housemate to my daughter Ellen, and often when I visited Ellen's home, there sat Paul in the day room, feet and legs tucked under him on a couch.

If you saw this man, you would think he was hostile, shut off from the world and any interaction. Once day I decided to reach out to him, so I got close to his face and spoke. "Hi Paul, how are you?" Paul, without hesitation, kissed my cheek! This, of course, surprised me. Paul taught me something that day, that hostility is really ignorance and like they say: "Don't judge a book by its cover".

I went to his wake, sat with staff and we conversed. Paul had a brother who didn't want to acknowledge Paul, didn't even come to is a funeral. He left his poor brother and denied his existence.

But as you drive through the main gates and reach the old oak tree, under the shadow of the mausoleum that abuts the area of the tree, you realize that he is resting there, just as I left him that day in May as we buried him. I recalled my last time seeing him and how he always kissed me. I realized I was at least in some shape or form taking the place of a loved one for Paul.


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