Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
This poem is posted on the wall in Ralph and Martha's hallway. As I watch the Colonel slipping away day by day, I often think of these words. They are surly, the bonds that he seeks to retain. Connecting him to a world which holds pain, and a seemingly never-ending cycle of waking, eating, vomiting, sleeping...
I wanted to share a resource for other Caregivers, and to tell you how I practice what the resource teaches.
The first thing Ralph asked for when he woke up this morning was a shower. This is a huge production, and I end up nearly as wet as he does! But this is also a gentle bonding time, in which I can nurture his spirit and care for his body with dignity. Yesterday was one of the hardest days he has had so far, but last night was great. This morning I took the opportunity to very gently apply lotion to his legs and feet, after the shower. "Compassionate Touch" is the technique, and is worth learning. It's sort of the secret to the sense of wellbeing the person has after what might have been an embarassing or awkward time of washing, dressing, etc. Every touch is delivered with powerful mental messages of worth, esteem, and care. Putting lotion on the legs, the thoughts go like this "I am honored to serve you. You are a person of great value. You deserve grace and dignity." If you look up into the face of the person to whom you are delivering this touch, you see the expression of relaxed enjoyment. Putting on the tee shirt, pulling up the Depends, all have the same effect. "I honor you. I care for you. You are not a burden." I don't know how, but the message is delivered. You must be very present with the person for this to "work". You cannot be putting lotion on withered hands and consider what you'll be cooking for dinner. If you do that, all that is received is moisturizer. Hold their frail hands gently in both of yours, and slowly rub lotion into the delicate skin. "You mean so much to so many. You've lived and served well, and it is your turn to receive this care." Even pulling the tee shirt over slivery gray hair, the message is sent. This is why, every single day, I hear "When you're here, I know everything will be alright." It's the message conveyed in every touch. It can be instinctive, however it's also good to learn. Anyone can do this. If you're a caregiver, take a moment to see if this might help you.
Here's the resource page: Until he slips the 'surly bonds of earth', he will know there is deep care on that earth, just for him.