Witwithwords Blog

Archive for July 2010

One of the benefits – if you could call it that- of having more leisure time than you would like is that you can volunteer more.

Recently, I helped Helen, 92, from my church (First Universalist Society of Franklin, http://www.fusf.org) who needed emergency services at Milford Hospital, http://www.milfordregional.org, in Milford, MA. Helen had wrenched her back muscles while taking care of her younger sister, 88, who was just home recovering from a knee operation.

Let me tell you, Helen is one of those remarkable people who still has loads of energy, fitness and all of her wits about her. She is a retired nursing director. But on the day I took her to the hospital, she was in excruciating back pain and practically crippled over. Despite her pain, throughout that whole long day, Helen was more worried about her younger sister than herself.

The Milford Hospital doctors, nurses and specialists treated Helen with great respect and after many different tests and an MRI, all recommended that she be admitted for more tests and so they could alleviate her pain. But neither Helen, nor her sister, had any other living relatives. The main dilemma was who could care for her sister while Helen was hospitalized. So Helen asked me to drive her home.

Our UU minister and a social worker tried to get Helen’s sister readmitted to the nursing home, but her health insurance (Medicare plus supplemental) prevented that. A private aide was too prohibitive. Finally, a patchwork system of volunteers from the church would deliver a hot meal, check in on her sister daily, so Helen could return to the hospital to receive the back treatment she desperately needed.

It is just over three weeks since I admitted Helen to the hospital. After three days at the hospital, Helen was scooted to a nursing home for physical rehabilitation and rest. Because of medical insurance regulations, she now must come home, even though she cannot stand yet. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Neither Helen, nor her sister, should be left alone for long periods of time. Which begs the question…..what do people do when medical insurance and Medicare both say no, and they have no relatives to help them further?


Owen, My Grand-Dog

Goodbye, Owen, My Grand-Dog

My Grand-dog, Owen, the best dog in the world, died Tuesday and went to doggie heaven.

Owen, a chocolate Labrador, was a loveable companion to my son, Dylan, for 12 1/2 years. Owen may have gotten old, but he never lost his child-like sense of fun. Whenever he heard my car drive in the driveway, he was up and barking, bounding out to greet me with his wagging tail, excited jumps and wet kisses. All he wanted was a love, a pet and then he was all smiles.

Owen had a real personality, similar to the dog in Marley. The difference was that he behaved around his owner and knew when to be good, for more pets and kisses, and when to whine, to let his owner know he needed some attention.

Owen had a long, happy, adventurous life with my son. He attended UVM, lived at various times at a beach house in Milford, CT, at a farmhouse with loads of acreage and deer in Westport, CT, and at an apartment in NYC. He even traveled cross-country and back on a whirlwind trip with Dylan. In fact, I often had visions that Owen drove part of the way.

Born in Vermont, Owen was trained by Dylan when a young co-ed had no idea what to do with this puppy. When she got a chance to go overseas for a year, she willingly gave Owen to Dylan, who by this time was spending most of his days with the young puppy and had come under Owen’s spell.

For the first three years of his life, Owen romped with his brother and sister Labs in a house just off campus. Owen had a ball, getting into puppy mischief, attending all of their parties, air-jumping into Lake Champlain, hiking mountains and learning to heel and walk the streets of downtown Burlington without a leash. Owen became a real “chick-magnet” for his owner, knowing how to charm the ladies.

I’ll never forget walking with Owen alone on Burlington’s cobblestone sidewalks right after Dylan’s cap and gown ceremony from UVM. Everyone on the street – from shopowners to many young attractive co-eds and other college dudes – knew Owen by name and called out to him, pet his head or had a cookie for him. As one friend said, “it’s like Owen should be mayor of this city.”

During Owen’s college puppy days, he got into lots of trouble – chewing up always just one shoe of an expensive pair. Likewise, he loved women’s underwear – not the daily Hanes stuff, but the lacey, kind, reserved for special occasions. He also liked the smell of dollar bills, beer and chocolate cookies. After noticing his distinct preferences, I asked my son, “are you really hitting the books or have you gone into another type of entrepreneurial venture I should know about?”

All kidding aside, when Owen did get into something he shouldn’t, he knew he was in big trouble. When he did something wrong, he would never greet you at the door, but instead hung his head down in shame in anticipation of your “Oh, No! What did you do! You’re a BAD BOY!”

When Owen rode in the back of the car, he would show his excitement for where he was going. When on I-91 north, he would not stop being excited the whole ride until he got to see his brother and sister in VT. In fact, on every trip back to VT, Owen would rarely sleep, but play the entire time until he left. When he traveled in my car on I-95 North, he knew he was going to the beach and couldn’t wait to chase the birds or mark his territory on our walks.

But Owen also sensed your mood and knew how to soothe the day with a love, a nuzzle, a nudge or a happy smile. He also knew how to cuddle up against you when it was cold and when you needed some TLC. Owen was a great friend to Dylan.

Owen, I’ll miss you, but never forget you!