Monday, February 8, 2010

Hospice Care

She is somewhere between the ages of 60 and 94. Her hair is gone because of the chemo - her teeth are gone because of the long, hard life she has led. She grew up in the countryside and married another sheep herder. They had a multitude of children; her descendents number 70 at the moment. Her high cheek bones cascade in wrinkled flesh to her chin, and her eyese shine bright with a quick wit and a good sense of humor. She is active and lively, but dying none the less. Our hospice care doctors help her deal with the pain and grief that come with end of life. She reminds me of an older lady from my childhood and I look forward to our visits. She asks about Jesus, and our hospice staff engage in a tender conversation with her and her family about the Reason we are present. We are present - this is the ministry we are called to; to be present with the people.

Twice a week I travel with the hospice staff to visit patients. Travel is the proper word - we often stand in buses or crowd into micro-buses for the better part of an hour just to get to one patient's home. Sometimes a hospice-care visit takes less time than the travel to the destination. I sit and visit with the patients and learn from the hospice staff. Some older adults speak Russian and I can communicate, but more often the doctor's translate questions and answers and I just try to be present and stay out of the way.

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