A year ago today, SanFranMan and I made Thanksgiving dinner for Jorge.  To look at this picture brings home so many things of the last year.  

Looking at Jorge, and remembering how he was at Thanksgiving and then towards the end in March... it suddenly dawned on me that he went out with a minimum of fuss and drama.  He didn't go thru the humiliation of needing to be fed or needing diapers.  He had only one poopy accident, the one where I found him in his chair, and he asked me for help.  I decided then and there that I'd stay with him, because he could no longer be alone.  Altho the offer had been made a couple of times before, he turned it down, he just wanted me to look in on him every day.  His daughter or I brought him a meal every day, only to discover it in the fridge.  When he asked for help, it was time, but it was on his terms... simply by finally asking for help.  We determined later that he must have had a stroke that day/nite, and so the next several days, he was in a fog, therefore not really present for the one humiliating time I had to hold him up in the shower while his adult grandson sprayed him down.  From then on, it was a steady improvement up. 

I feel good in my heart for the way I treated him.  He was so proud and so independent, it was a fine line to walk between pushing him to do what he needed to do hygiene-wise, eating, taking care of bedsores, using the oxygen.  When to leave him alone and when to chat with him.  Once I started bringing him books from the library, he spent hours of each day engrossed in Louis A'Mour.  I "pushed" only two conversations on him, the one about how he wanted to die, and after he got started, he was glad to talk about it.  Another, if he had anything he needed to do, or have any one of the family do, or had anything to say, etc.  He said no at the time, but the door had been opened, left ajar, and he'd talked mostly about the kids.  One time about his wife.  Other times, something on TV would trigger a memory and he'd regale me with stories from the past, about jobs he'd done.  Several times, he talked about each one of his children, almost like I was meant to be a conduit of sorts.  If I don't use a word alot, I have to check the meaning to be sure I'm using it correctly. 

Main Entry: con·duit
Pronunciation: 'kän-"dü-&t, -"dyü- also -dw&t, -d&t
Function: noun

1 : a natural or artificial channel through which something (as a fluid) is conveyed
2 archaic : FOUNTAIN
3 : a pipe, tube, or tile for protecting electric wires or cables
4 : a means of transmitting or distributing <a conduit for illicit payments> <a conduit of information>

I've not shared these conversations yet, and don't know if I ever will.  I've tried a couple of times, but circumstances stop me for both internal and external reasons. 

He had a stroke the last couple of days, so again, he was out of it when I had to clean him up.  He quit eating, reading.  All he did was sleep during the day and talked to ghosts during the nite.  Happy ghosts he was glad to talk to.  Conversations I felt left out of as I held his hands to calm him.  Conversations that raised the hair on the back of my neck, because I knew there were other spirits in that bedroom. 

Thanksgiving is more focused on "family" than our other holidays. The TV keeps rubbing in that fact as I contemplate that I have no real family, and I've not been a fan of holidays for the most part for that reason.  But this year, when I felt that familiar resentment... I thought of Jorge and didn't feel so alone.