Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our Hometown Hero

From time to time, the Bentley Farm Gazette honors the unsung heroes. Another necessary honoring is well due.

My maternal grandpa has had Parkinson's disease for several years now. Through the years it has slowly brought about dehabilitating factors. At this point he cannot communicate, he can rarely open his eyes, he cannot eat or drink, he cannot get up to use a restroom, and, in fact, any movement at all requires the assistance of another person. From all accounts, one would most likely imagine my grandpa in a nursing home.

But on a soccer field?

Aunt Joanne, my mother's sister, cares for my grandpa in the most loving and inspiring of ways. In a time when the frail and uncommunicative have become particularly vulnerable to the ethics of efficacy, my aunt has stood as a stalwart for a different way. The energy and love that she pours forth into my grandpa's care is truly inspirational.

Her highest aim is for grandpa's comfort. That is why Grandpa sleeps in her bedroom with her and her husband; that is why she is constantly attentive to his more raspy breaths and ready to clear his lungs and throat when necessary; that is why she positions the blankets around him "just so"; that is why she is always aware of turning him so that he doesn't get bedsores; that is why she bathes him and changes him and cares for his feeding tube.

You may think that her highest aim would be sufficient. But, she seems to have this somewhat unspoken aim that is particularly marvelous and unique. It seems as though Joanne's second goal is to make sure that Grandpa doesn't get bored.

That is the reason that she takes him to soccer games. That is also the reason that she and her husband converted the back of their van into a mini sleeper of sorts. And, that is why she just brought him on a twenty-four hour road trip from Minnesota to Bentley Farm.

And best of all, at the end of the day, what Joanne talks about is not Grandpa's needs, but his strength and fortitude and patience that allows her to help in these many regards.

Aunt Joanne is a mighty fine hero.