about life, love and ...



Posted by Jean Johnson on August 1, 2010 at 8:27 PM Comments comments (0)

I've begun volunteering at a hospice home.  This is a reflection of time spent with Sid...

I brought the reverie harp into his room and sat down,strummed the strings and watched his face. 


Sid’s left side is paralyzed from a stroke.  He has both a feeding tube and breathingtube.  His body is stiff from beingbedridden so long.  Sid cannot speak,although his eyes, if you look long enough and hard enough, tell many stories.


I talked quietly as I strummed, plucking notes hereand there.  I tried “Amazing Grace”,stumbling from one note to another, trying to find the melody.  Letting go of that, I moved to simplyplaying, plucking, stroking the strings, watching Sid’s face.


He seemed to want to play it because he reached outwith his right arm – just a little.  Iput the harp under his arm and he plucked a few strings.  Then, he seemed to be done, so I took theharp back, sat down and began playing again.


“Do you like all kinds of music, Sid?” I asked.  He looked at me, eyebrows twitching.  I continued playing.  “I know you have some Michael W. Smith CDShere, and Handel’s Messiah.  I’m thinkingyou love music,” I surmised.  Sidcontinued to look at me.


“Would you like to feel the harp?” I asked.  I gently laid the harp on Sid’s chest andslowly slid my fingers along the strings. “Do you feel the music going through the harp into yourself?” Iasked. 


Sid’s milky blue eyes watched, seeming to flicker witha new understanding.  I continued playingthe harp laid on Sid’s chest for a while, watching his face. 


He’d reach up and try to touch his head.  I asked if he wanted me to lower thebed.  That didn’t seem right.  He reached up again, seeking myunderstanding. He was teaching me to listen with my eyes, I think…


I reached up and touched his head, stroked his hairover and over.  Sid’s thin gray haircovers the left side of his skull – his forehead is high and wide.  I stroked his hair from the top of his headto the top of his ear over and over.  Sidseemed to lean into that. 


There was no major change in environment oratmosphere.  It was a simple touch of myhand on him.  I talked slowly, gently,murmuring calm words, singing a little. Sid slowly closed his eyes and seemed to soften just a bit. 


I then stroked his cheek and he leaned into that evenmore.  It reminded me of times when Iwould stroke my children’s faces when they were crying or upset.  Eventually, the tears would subside, theirstress would lessen, they would relax into me. 


Sid fell asleep as I continued stroking his cheek,relaxing into my touch. 


Such little effort on my part.  A touch, some comfort, then sleep.   


I don’t know if you realize the wisdom you shared withme today, Sid – that touch can be so deep and holy. 




Posted by Jean Johnson on January 9, 2010 at 4:43 PM Comments comments (1)

Got a room at the Lakeshor for Saturday and Sunday.  Arriving here earlier today, I drove to Parkville, took pictures of just how close Minntac is to the old homestead, thought about making a snowangel and didn't.  Got some hot air from Canelake's - sorry, Fleet Farm, yours just doesn't do it!  Herberger's, Big KMart, Sawmill Offsale Liquor, KFC - forgot to give me sporks so I had to make a stop at Super One - all within an hour's time!  Funny how small and cold and sad everything looks.  I look out the window of the motel across Silver Lake to the power plant on the west end of Chestnut Street.  The steam is blowing furiously from the top, the curve sign is blowing in the wind, the snow is dirty and crusted, pickups drive by in about 20 second intervals - seems to be the vehicle of choice here. 

Puffy little bump clouds cover 2/3 of the way the sky - the other is the cold blue of winter.  The sun will set in about an hour or so - and then the night will lay its blanket across the city.

People look lonely, hard, sad - like the rocks around here.  Not sure if it's hopeless, but it's little and small.  The houses are huddled together- trying to keep warm themselves, maybe? 

Hard to believe I grew up here and things seemed SO big and promising.  Endless possibliities all around me, I thought.  East Range Choral Society, Dallis Frandsen and Virginia High School Choir, Gethsemane- all so tiny now.

Drove by Gethsemane - the stained glass windows look like they're just painted now- they always have been, I guess, but they look weary now.  I'm going to the contemporary service there tomorrow - wonder if Mary Jo Ralston still sings with the praise band. 

Maybe everyone looks sad, no matter where they are - I just don't seem them as much because there are so many in the Cities.  Here, there are one or two sitting on the benches in the mall - one man sat slumped against the bench.  Two teenage girls with their KMart special winter jackets attempted to look cool, standing by Fashion Bug - "going out of business - all the hardware goes, too!".  The dank, humid smell of overdone hot dogs fled out of the snack bar in the middle of the mall.  An old woman with red hair, fading like the sunset, pushed her cart, looking ferociously at all the plastic storage ware - did she need a soup size or sandwich size or just need to look?

Part of me is relieved to be gone from this place - the boredom that seems to wrap itself around everyone.  Part of me is angry with myself because I feel so "superior" to people here - stop it, you twit!  But, it's true - I do feel superior in the sense that I have hope, I laugh, I have a wonderful job - most of the time, I thrive.