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There are many days I feel pulled in a million directions. At home, I worry about my parents, work, my extended family and the volunteer work I do. At work, all of the above except work. The one thing I am sure of is that I am doing what God called me to do.
I have been an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist for at least 7 years. I take Communion to the sick and shut-ins of my parish. I have been profoundly touched by these people. They have prepared me for my role as caregiver to my parents.
I met Doris in 1997. She mentored me and taught me how to be a "church lady". As she declined in health, I began to take her Communion. In the beginning she kept telling me that my visits were temporary. People would call while I was visiting her and she would say, "The lady from church is here." As time went on and I got to know her better, she would say, "Amy is here." As the second year trickled into the third, she began to call me "my friend Amy." I became as dependent on these visits as she. I learned her life story and then some. She was, I discovered, quite plain spoken. She made no bones about having worked hard and not liking having to slow down. She tells me, "Amy you do too much.l"
At one point she stood up too quickly, fell and broke a bone in her foot. I did not realize it at the time. but this was the beginning of the last stage of her life. Little laspes in memory. Lost time. Missed appointments. Wrecking her car. I was a bystander and sometime participant in these adventures. A weekly constant. She became the person I scheduled the rest of my visits around.
About 4 weeks before she died, she asked me, What do you think dying is like? We talked about it for a couple of hours. I told her it was peaceful, comfortable. The Lord brings you peace, I promise is what I said. I told her that what hurts is being brought back. We read the story of Lazarus. We concluded that it was not his time to leave permanently. We prayed about it. I am convinced that this conversation gave her great comfort.
Three weeks later, Doris was admitted to hospice. Her family graciously allowed me to be part of their family at this time. God blessed me with the strength to help them (and myself) through the most difficult, stressful time of most people's family life...the death of a loved one. As I sat with them, talked with Doris and her family I realized that at some point, my own family would be affected in this way, it is the human condition.
Doris died December 26 of 2010. She was the first of my 7 "ladies" to die over a 13 month period. I still hear her voice saying, "Amy, you do too much!"
My father is now on the end of life journey. I know God is blessing me in abundance. Because of my experiences with Doris and my 7 "ladies", I at least have some of the emotional and spiritual tools in place to cope. I thank God every day for Doris and the gifts God gave me through her and the other ladies. God is indeed good.
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