Category Archives: humor

Mouse Is In The Garage

I had a heavy week.  I thought I would get ahead of it by doing a spiritual assessment on a new admission Sunday afternoon and while I was at the facility, I would check in with another couple of patients.  I have a flexible schedule like that. However I also had a bunch visits that needed to be done, a week of lousy, rainy and otherwise dank weather, a memorial service and an online class.  Come Friday I was a bit fried.

Balance is the key and so knowing that, I got a kitten and named it Mouse. img_0788

I figured having something very alive was a good balance to being with those who are dying.

But after a long week, I figured I needed something else. Teary eyed and exhausted. I finished up work and even Mouse could not help lift the weight, so I headed down to the village, and I decided to go and get that bike that I have been wanting for a good long while.  I had been down to the Dedham Bike Shop at least a couple of times over the last few years and even bought a bike for my buddy Bea’s birthday. But didn’t get around to getting one for me.

I stopped riding a bicycle about 18 years ago when I was diagnosed with IC and was told that I had to change a whole lot of things in my life to reduce the pain and disabling effects of the illness.  Riding a bike was one of those things. Plus I was either a student or an unemployed CPE intern or simply unemployed, so a fun thing like a bike was out.

imagesYesterday I threw  caution to the wind and decided to go look at bikes and found one that seemed like a good fit. I put a deposit down on it with the plan to go ahead and pick it up this morning.   I felt like I was 5 again.  My first bike was red Schwinn Pixie but with a white seat and it came from the Dedham Bike Shop. I picked a purple one and got a purple helmet to match.  I felt like the kid at Christmas who peaked and saw a bike with their name on it.

It was a good thing too. When I returned home after a meeting last night I was called in to work to help the family of that new patient I had been with last Sunday.  The patient had put themselves on hospice and the family was not ready.  The Patient was ready for death and had said so to me, but the family wasn’t on the same page.  And despite the protests against the illness, the patient passed away.   I got the call and within 15 minutes was on site, but the family had left and so I did what I was called to do.

Went down the hall, entered the room and then spent then next little while with the deceased.  I had found the TV on, the bathroom door open with light streaming out, full light in the room and the sheets of the deceased all askew.  I turned things off, pull the covers up over her feet, shut the door and began to pray.  They had said to me last Sunday that they had forgotten their prayers, so I pulled out a Rosary and said it for them, as I laid the pink plastic cross down.  Returning home I took some time to decompress and thought about that bike.  I went to bed singing “Bicycle race ”

This morning I went down to the village and rode it home, singing.   These same streets that I rode my first little red bike on and all of those feelings of being free came back. Just like when I first learned to ride and go faster than on foot.  And getting the bike gave me some energy to do the chores and put the cat window in for Mouse. She learned to use it and has some freedom now herself.

In her new freedom she disappeared for a while and gave us a scare.  Turns out she went into the neighbor’s garage and before they went out for the night, the door was closed with her locked inside.  They are still out and she is still locked in, but at least I know where she is and eventually they will come home, see my note pinned to their door and I can go fetch her.

And here is where the balance pays off.  Mum was tired at the end of the day and when Mouse didn’t show up, Mum was upset.  Afraid of all the things that could go wrong.  On the other hand, I had an awesome day riding my bike and singing Queen songs.  I figured Mouse would either show up or she wouldn’t.  Either she lives a free life going out and coming, sometimes getting stuck and needing to be found, or she doesn’t.  I choose the former too.   And like Mouse I choose to play when I can.

 

How do you tell a Mob Boss to quit smoking?

imgres .

I had a great conversation with Mum yesterday.  We were talking about politics and ethics and social justice. We talked about those that reach out to everybody and those that for what ever reason, push those that are different away.

And that lead to a bunch of family stories most I knew and this new one I had never heard. Grandaddy was a surgeon here in Boston and was one of the first in the world to successfully open the chest cavity to do either lung or heart surgery.  His main thing was lungs and he was one of the first to connect the effects of smoking to lung disease.  Mum said that when President Eisenhower had his heart attack, Grandaddy was flown out to Denver as part of the medical team.  That story did not surprise me, I grew up hearing stories about some of his patients that were heads of state, famous actors and the like.  These were pre-Hippa days, and often the family would receive gifts from “grateful patients”.

That was a category.

Pointing to a crate of oranges, “Hey Mamie, where did this come from? ” Or looking at the delivery of giant flower arrangements, “who sent these?”  “A grateful patient Dearie, a grateful patient.”

The story I didn’t know was about that time when he operated on big time Crime Boss Raymond Patriarca and there were detailed cars parked outside of the house for a week or so.  Mum said the cars were FBI or CIA.  I am not so sure about that.  “We had to lock the doors, and we never locked the doors” said Mum.  “We couldn’t go anywhere until it was over”.

What was the issue?  “Well I guess there would have been an issue if Patriarca didn’t make it off the table.  It was life and death you know.” Mum quipped.

I guess he didn’t discriminate.  He treated everyone about he same.  Gave me lecture upon lecture about smoking and I am sure he gave that same lecture to the Mob Boss.

This is what I know about Grandaddy. He was a diehard Republican who I argued with during the Ronny Ray-gun years. At family dinners, we would get going about it until Mamie felt it was going nowhere and would say, “My, the battleships are a lovely shade of gray this year”.  He taught me to fish, to gut that fish on the spot, to chop wood and to how to stack it.  He told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.  He once sent me a letter at camp impressing upon me how important communication was.  He had his secretary type it for him.  I wish I had kept that letter.   He was human like the rest of us.

What I did see was that he pumped his own gas, but he drove a Saab.  He talked to the guy behind the Dunkin Donuts counter with the same intent as international guests at his table.  He impressed upon me to never think less of someone doing manual labor, for we all should do what we can with the gifts we are given.  If he had to go out at night, he often wore his PJs under his suit because he liked to get his sleep.

He was a product of his generation, born in 1901 and in Peru Nebraska.  He was motivated to do something after watching the fall out from the 1918 flu.  and the Great White Plague.    He didn’t get everything right, but he did instill the notion that one should find their purpose and do it. His was fighting Lung disease.  He literally saved lives, and from what I remember and what I have learned, he never checked to see what the patient’s background was; religious, economic, political or otherwise before he operated.  We all bleed red.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall then he lectured the Boss about quitting smoking.  He could not help to give that lecture to anyone at anytime. He was asked to speak at my 6th grade graduation and I was mortified when he gave the no smoking lecture to the whole school.  I picked up smoking because it was so rebelous.  He once hauled me into his clinic and took a chest r-ray just to scare me.  I didn’t work, I was hooked anyhow.  I smoked ciggs off and on for years and still dream of them.  But I smile now when I see how his efforts in the early days paid off and for the most part, people understand the risk of smoking.

I guess he knew that the addiciton of smoking does not discriminate, neither does lung disease.  It does not care if you are rich or poor, black or while, Christian or Mulim, gay or straight.  He did the work he was wall called to do Mob Boss or not.

 

 

 

 

Growing Edges

neurobiology-writers-block-phd-students

I am at the dining room table with folders, cup of tea, scripture, a couple of pens and my music going. This seems to be a space where I can get the writing done.  The project this week is to gather the paperwork together for a Clinical Pastoral Education Equivalency.  To be certified by the Association of Professional Chaplain one needs to have a Master of Divinity degree, four units of CPE- that’s the clinical pastoral ed thing- and then 2000 hours as a paid chaplain.    I have completed the MDiv, have two accredited CPE units done with a third starting up at the end of May and one year of field study that should qualify for the equivalency unit.  You are allowed one of the four units to be an equivalency.  So there are the details.

The bigger picture is that I have been going over what I did in chaplaincy work my second year of seminary.   You have to do field work as part of the requirements for the degree and most seminarians do their year at a church because they are following a call to ordination as a minister within some sort of denomination.  I am called to be an interfaith chaplain which is a bit different and so I did a field study placement as a chaplain intern at Newton Wellesley Hospital through Harvard Divinity School.   Now I am looking back to see what my goals were then and how I attained them, or changed them or found out I needed some more work in certain areas.  We call that our “growing edges”.  God I hate that term.

Seems like every field; ministry, business, psychology, all comes with terminology.  And every association or grouping of folk have their rules and regulations that from the society for which they congregate.  I get that.  I get that we form groups with like-minded folks and have rules by which we play.  But sometimes the rules become its own game.  And I don’t like that either.  I want to get to the actual doing of stuff, working with people, rather than getting stuck in the details.

It is not that I don’t need more training.  I do and I hope to remain teachable and open to learning more about the art of chaplaincy and pastoral care.  But the whole paperwork thing drives me buggers.  To the point where I will do almost anything to get around what it is I should be doing.  I have been know to clean the bathroom instead of writing the paper.  I also just took up running again, not to get into shape, but most likey to avoid the paperwork.  If I run myself tired I won’t have so much angst about the paperwork.  And it is really not that bad.   Not like a theological systematics paper  for Prof. Heim or a Christology paper for Prof. Valentine.

And here is what I know about myself.  I get all caught up in the angst of getting the paperwork done, rather than just sitting down and answering the questions and writing the papers.  Nothing has changed much there.  I would rather blog, with the hope that by clearing my voice and opening up the flow of writing, that the writing I need to submit will come easier.   And that my friends, all comes down to being judged as being acceptable by how I write and what I say.   Old wounds from Jr. High School where I learned I am dyslexic and became fearful that what I wrote was wrong because I never understood what exactly people were asking me to do.

OK, so stepping back, I have a folder of work I did for a field study through Harvard.  They thought it was good enough to pass me through.  I guess my “growing edge” is to accept that perhaps what I did should count for something.