Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good bye Gerri

The time has come to announce that Gerri has passed away peacefully at 3:30 this morning (March 22, 2011) at Campbell River Hospital.

The following arrangements were made:
Funeral Services were held on Saturday, March 26, 2011.
To everyone's surprise and delight Gerri left a video with her last words to her friends. 
Gerri's last words that she addressed to her family and friends is now online.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Campbell River Hospital, the Campbell River Hospice Program, or the charity of your choice. Again we'll ask you to not arrange for any deliveries to Gerri's address, there will be nobody there to receive them. 

I saw Gerri the last time on March 17 when she asked me to say good-bye to everyone with the previous post. On March 19 she requested to be transferred to Campbell River Hospital. She wanted to be alone, at rest, answer no more questions "how do you feel?", make no decisions, receive no treatments, except for pain to keep her comfortable. She left strict instructions not to be disturbed by anyone.

There is really not much left to say. Those who knew her understand that she was a woman of action, and waiting for the moment under the gaze of others was agony. She knew that the time was close, she was ready to go, so she made it happen her way. She entered this world alone, and she left it alone.

This is a poem that gives me a lot of comfort. Gerri loved it too.
This is for all of her friends who feel the great loss of Gerri gone from this world. She'll never be gone from our heart!
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Mary Frye
Perhaps you won't see Gerri's obituary in your local paper. See it here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saying good bye to the world

When I arrived Gerri was dressed, sitting up, having lunch, eating slowly and with enjoyment. Her place is very peaceful and calm. She is very tired now. As we talked about some things it became immediately clear that all worldly matters, ongoing by necessity, are now wholly in the hands of her family or myself.

Gerri instructed me to put one more post on her blog while she is still here. She wants to say good bye to all  her dear friends, be they close or distant. She has now turned away from all worldly things, they no longer have any significance. You could say that she is in transit  to the Abha Kingdom.

Gerri's spirit takes little flights away sometimes, a little bit like a fledgling bird trying out its wings, and after a few minutes she is back and continues the conversation.

Don't get me wrong. Gerri is 'all there'. We discussed how she feels. Her journey at this stage is intensely personal and very private, nothing else matters. It may be hard for us to understand this, but Gerri agreed that you could compare this time to your wedding day. Isn't it one of the few days in your life that is uniquely yours? On that day the world retreats, nothing else matters but you and your beloved and the beginning of your new life together.

So Gerri is saying good bye to us all. It won't be long now and her body will set her spirit free.

Of course this is not the last post. There will be one more, when the time has come. In the meantime, unless you were specifically asked to do so, please, no calls, no emails, no visits, no mail or deliveries. Prayers, on the other hand, are never wasted or refused. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dream Talking

Some days are tough. It's not pain or crisis, it's just getting through it. The burden for Gina is sometimes just too heavy. The daily routine of taking care of Gerri is busy and rigid, and any change in it brings problems. Case in point, Gina had requested that, if possible, the home care attendants should be ones who are known to them, and when a stranger showed up, there is more stress. Everything is set up to be a calm environment for Gerri, yesterday it just wasn't.

It became clear, as I visited her, that she has gotten a lot weaker in one week. She was sitting up and having a late lunch and we chatted. I showed her the printed pictures of Gerry Graber, the baby, and played an mp3 file a friend sent her, updated her on emails. Throughout the phone kept ringing with legitimate callers and it had to be answered.

When I asked how the week went, I learned about a humidity problem in the apartment that had to be tended to, not pleasant, and that harassing phone calls several times a day continued. I got the number from Gina last week and I found it to be located in California... Nasty business that, leaving messages that are gibberish, ringing several times a day. Someone called that number and it showed 'out of service'. Online responses about this number were numerous, a known problem caller/number others have also experienced. Shaw phone service  charges extra to block numbers, but to get some peace it is the only solution to stop this nonsense.

Another time on another blog I'll rant at length about what I think of Shaw phone service. I can tell you here, it ain't much!

Gerri is starting to zone out. Sometimes she is dream talking, hallucinating, all in a normal conversational tone. If it weren't so concerning, you could find some humor in it. It's a sign that she is sinking fast, starting to react to the heavy drugs she has to take. She is weak, has a hard time moving herself into her bed, lifting her legs, shifting her body.

Gerri said it herself many times, her body has become a burden that her spirit has to drag around. It won't be very much longer, Gerri, when you can let your body go.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gerry Graber is right here in Maryland

The following email was received on 4 March 2011 04:26:
Subject: Gerry Graber is right here in Maryland
Dearly loved ones;
In the early hour of this morning (5:33am), the lord showered his blessing again. A baby boy was born at the Upper Chesapeake Medical centre, Maryland. The baby is named Gerry Graber Njizokokeh. He arrived a little earlier than expected. Both mother and child (not forgetting the father) are doing well but will have to stay in hospital for a while because of this early arrival.
Join us and granny, Gerri Graber in festive celebrations and prayers for health. Her greatest aspiration was to see the arrival of this little Gerry. Pictures will follow shortly.
on behalf of The family
Mokuh B
Introducing Vena, Gerry and Mokuh (looking a bit stunned). All are well, the baby was about 4.5lb and is breathing on its own. The father is breathing again too, and grandma Gerri is over the moon!
OK friends, read the last paragraph of the previous post. Oh, heck, read the whole post.

Isn't it just a tiny bit freaky how everything that happens in Gerri's life follows a perfect time-line? Well, we know it's not freaky, it's God's plan... but 'God's plan' is not in  everyone's vocabulary.

Granny Gerri doesn't have the opportunity to hold little Gerry, but she held her great-grand niece yesterday, who is also only days old.

I visited Gerri on Friday and we had a wonderful afternoon. The exciting news lifted everyone's spirit. Still, is is time for a reality check. It's so easy for her friends, including me, to forget how very ill Gerri is. As mentioned in previous posts, for now the crisis' have abated, but every day has its cost.

I didn't know that Gerri takes steam inhalations 6 times a day. Those sessions are each laced with steroids. Steroids make it possible for her to eat and helps reduce inflammation in her lungs. The steam helps her breathe. Pain meds are administered throughout the day, sometimes Gerri takes 4-6 pills at one time; she wouldn't be able to tolerate those pills without food, hence, the steroids. Now listen to this: Gerri told me that she is never sure that she'll be able to breathe when she wakes up in the morning, and, she is never sure that she will wake up at all.

Again, dear friends, Gerri gets her messages read to her, is shown her blog, is shown the blog comments. The visitors she receives now are only her family and some friends she specifically asks for. None of us want to loose her. But it is not our journey or our "wants". We can help her and ourselves best by leaving everything in God's hands—after all He has a plan—and, if you are so inclined, let's pray for her.

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Ayyam-i-Ha for the expectant Grandma

Gerri knows how to celebrate. (Ayyam-i-Ha is a time for gift-giving and social gatherings in the Baha'i Faith.) Her apartment is decorated with lovely lighted branches in a vase and other special decorations, and I know they are planning to celebrate with good food and equally good company. When I called her today, she made me promise that I will eat chocolate; it's Gerri's decree that Ayyam-i-Ha is a day for chocolate! What Gerri wants is what Gerri gets, so chocolate it is. Gina made a ginger and pear upside-down cake of which I'll received a piece next Friday when I go for a short visit to see them both. I'll explain all that to my hips later.

Gerri has been given breathing room, literally and figuratively. As mentioned before, the terrible pain and rapid decline has retreated for now and progression has slowed down to the occasional gentle reminder that it has not stopped. This is giving Gerri time to visit with those who are closest to her, her immediate and extended family, and being able to enjoy the time she has with them. And, perhaps, if God wills it, she'll see the arrival of Vena and Mokuh's child in April. Gerri is an expectant grandma!

For those of you who had asked Gerri about sending a baby gift to Vena and Mokuh, here is a list of baby things that they need. If you would like to send a gift, please send email to Bartholomew and Vena and make arrangements directly with them.

Vena, Mokuh's wife, will be giving birth to their first child in April. Wouldn't it be lovely for Gerri to be here and  welcome her grand child? Prayers will help! Followed by READY... CAMERA... SKYPE!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ten-star days and Love

Gerri continues to enjoy every day to the fullest. Every time I see her now—enjoying each day without pain, blissfully eating chocolate, sipping hot water, chatting about God and the world—I try to absorb Gerri's gracious and courageous attitude into my being with the hope that I'll remember it and will be able to emulate it when my time comes to get ready for the end of my earthly life.

I "sat with Gerri" yesterday. What an expression. I guess your vocabulary changes when someone is ill and is safer with someone sitting with them. This Gerri-sitting was really a delightful visit in her great company, topped with servings of excellent tea and scrumptious chocolate. Even better is that you can always feel the love Gerri is surrounded with, draws strength from, and exudes with every precious minute you spend in her company.

On Valentine's Day, Mokuh sent to some friends on facebook a virtual box of chocolate with what I think is the perfect definition of Love and its immense power.
"Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God's holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven's kindly light, the Holy Spirit's eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God's revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance... with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha)
Thank you, Bartholomew. I've savoured each word, because there is nothing to add or to remove from the perfection of this statement. Gerri is sending everyone her love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Good days continue...

I got an email from Gerri herself yesterday:
"Just tears and sighs and many thanks from me today--a ten Star bonus day of five this week!"
Gerri had a big day yesterday, full of emotions. Two visits from people who came to see her from out of town. Her first visitors, Bruce and Mark, came to sing the Lord's Prayer to her, for which Bruce specially composed the music. It will be their loving contribution to Gerri's (interfaith) funeral service, and as, when the time comes, Gerri won't be able to hear it, they made a special trip to sing it to her.

Think about that for a moment...

Harold Rosen  launched his book "Founders of Faith" yesterday at North Island College. In any other circumstance Gerri would have been at his book launch, but since she was unable, the book launch came to her. Am mentioning this here because this is one book that Gerri was looking forward to reading, and I think it will be of interest to a lot of her friends.

Yesterday was a day of spiritual love that went far above and beyond the Valentine's Day version.

A note of caution to all of Gerri's friends. The no visits, no phone calls, no deliveries or other disruptions request is still in effect. Your prayers, good wishes, blog comments and emails will reach her.

It is easy to forget how fast Gerri can spiral into a crisis when she has had good days. Her ten-star days have stretched into several in a row because she has kept to a tight schedule of treatments, medications, food and rest. Gerri herself is inviting the people she needs to see. You may be getting a call from her when it is your time to talk with her.
Today, Gerri is exhausted. It's a day of rest for her. As she said in her own words, her days have been ten-star days. Pain controlled, she is eating good food, even some things she had never tried before, and treats, like chocolate and ice cream.

Gerri now enjoys her meals, savoring every bite. Something she had not been able to do in her earlier days. She was always afraid to gain weight.

Her approach to food started changing when she knew her diagnosis. She would open that chocolate, break off a piece, and ask with her wicked little grin: "would I eat this if I died tomorrow?" ...You bet she would!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A sparkling day!

No pain today! What can I say—Gerri sparkled.

I found Gerri dressed to the hilt, getting ready for a walk outside. Was it only last week when she told me that getting up from her bed and walking down the hall was a very big accomplishment? Well, today the ladies were taking the air in the garden.
Gerri Graber eyes!
See all the sparkly pictures of Gerri
Seriously, it was wonderful to see her looking so great. She truly was her old self. Look at her eyes! They are, like they always were, blue lasers.

I commented on the beautiful outfit she was wearing and got back that she decided to wear her good clothes from now on. She likes being dressed well and where else would she wear them now?

It's been over a week since there was a bad crisis. Gina and Gerri now know that she'll pay a price if she overdoes it. Getting up and sitting for more than 30 minutes is too much. Everything has its schedule, visits of home care nurses, registered nurses, therapists, occasional visitors, even naps.

We reminisced about the old fashioned type of nursing care that was available in hospitals once upon a time, especially the (often talked about in other contexts) sponge baths. If you ever have been the recipient of a real sponge bath, including having lotion, baby powder, or alcohol rubbed into your back, you know how incredibly wonderful that feels. Well, some things are still right with the world when you hear Gerri say that she is looking forward to a sponge bath every evening when her home care nurse comes to help her get ready for bed.

I guess it's not quite right to feel little twinges of envy...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Friday was a very good day!

It was sunny-ish day, and if you really looked for it it felt just a tad like Spring. When I arrived at Gerri's with bags of groceries, notebook and treats, I was received with big smiles. Gerri sitting on her hospital bed, dressed, comfy with an air mask on her face. No, it isn't oxygen, it's just air that is mixed with some medication. This does two things, push air into the lungs and the medication is instantly absorbed at the same time.

I could tell right away that Gerri was having a very good day. Her voice, never timid before, was strong again and her eyes sparkled. While the air mask was being put away I put the ice cream in the freezer. Gerri had a craving for ice cream, so I got some. Bryer's French Vanilla. The original full fat, creamy, tasty treat, as ice cream should be. Did you notice that the majority of the frozen products in the cooler at the store have taken the cream out of the ice cream? Low fat, no fat, no milk, no cream, soy something, yogurt. No question though, when Gerri wants ice cream, she'll get the real thing.

This Friday, February 4th, was the 56 year anniversary since Gerri entered the nunnery. 56 years ago the 16 year old Geraldine Graber walked through the front door of the convent to become a nun! She said that sitting in her hospital bed now, remembering her time as a nun, she felt transported back there. She felt like being in the convent infirmary while three other women tended to her, one nursing, one cleaning, and one writing for her.
(Of course I have to mention 'The Book' here.)
This visit we wanted to catch up on emails and the blog and its comments. I read all the emails that have 'stacked up' to Gerri and then read the blog posts. Gerri wants to thank you, her friends, who have written or commented, for your good wishes and prayers. She feels the love that you send her way and the prayers help. Don't stop writing to her because she cannot personally reply.

She hadn't seen the blog for about two weeks. Gerri loved it. When I read the description of the glider and the tow plane she cried a little (so did Gina) and then said, "that's how I see it too."

It's a funny thing, when Gerri and I, and now Gina too, have an animated discussion we get very—let's say—emphatic. If a stranger were to listen to us they might think we were yelling at each other. I've often thought how wonderful that is, to be able to just make a point, or protest with ever increasing emphasis and decibels, and knowing that the other understands you perfectly.

This Friday was like old times. I was getting very emphatic, yelling 'no way' when Gerri insisted that I should be know as Gerri's blogographer rather than Gerri's blogger. OK, Gerri, I've written it, as promised...

Leave it to Gerri to coin new words.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Home again

Gerri is home again. Just a quick update today to say that she's back from the hospital and while being a little weaker in some ways, she feels stronger in others. Gina said excitedly 'she is eating whole meals again' to underline how much more stable Gerri is. Now don't think that she is tucking into 4 course dinners, it's enough that Gerri is eating small portions of real food, that is a whole lot better than she has done in quite a while.

When it is possible Gina and Gerri plan and work. It continues to amaze me how much work it is to wind up an earthly life. To the last Gerri wants to make it easier for those who are left behind. She is trying to organize everything ahead of time while she still can.

And, dear friends, the word 'funeral' doesn't quite fit the event that is being organized by and for Gerri. The word's too somber. By the sound of it, it should be billed "Gerri's joyful send-off from this life into the next".

Monday, January 31, 2011

Home on Tuesday

Mokuh sent confirmation that he arrived safely at home, and with it some pictures. Gerri will be thrilled when she sees them.

Mo and Mokuh at Vancouver Airport

Gerri is still in hospital. She is up and down. She is comfortable in the hospital and seems to have fewer 'downs'. Mind you, when she has a crisis, which she had to endure again on Saturday, it is terrible and nearly unbearable; in those hours she wants to be released from this earth. It has become apparent that Gerri responds well to a certain routine during her day and that routine is what doctors, nurses and pharmacist want to replicate for her when she is at home, so that she can enjoy more 'ups'.

When she gets home, be it Tuesday, as planned, or later in the week she'll be cared for by three of her siblings. Her brother and sister are visiting from Vancouver and her little apartment will be full!

Gerri will see her blog and all of your comments and good wishes later this week. I am sure she'll love to read what you've written. I would like to remind everyone that this is a public journal, meaning that everyone on earth can read it if they happen to find it. Your comments should not contain personal information, such as phone numbers, or addresses, or messages that are better sent by email. Gerri gets all her messages, she just doesn't get them every day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time to say good-bye

Mokuh left this morning. I picked him up from Campbell River yesterday evening and drove him to the Comox airport this morning. Six days to say good-bye to Gerri. If it were a year, it wouldn't be enough.

Gerri spoke so much about her son but until you meet him you can't know how wonderful he is. We had a chance to talk a little bit about his life in Africa, how he came to be landed in the USA in such a short time, how he had met Gerri, how they had lived and worked together in Cameroon and Chad... He also related some stories about the corruption in Africa and how he had dealt with some of it. Oh, I can't wait until he finishes the book he is writing... his is no ordinary existence.

I just have to explain his name... well, sort of. I still don't know which is his last name and which his first. NJIZOKOKEH MOKUH BATHOLOMEW  (note: Mokuh is a title, means Prince! And Batholomew doesn't have an 'r'.)

Gerri is still in hospital. Had another crisis the night before last, but was able to spend the whole day yesterday with Mokuh visiting. He took pictures. Notice that Gerri wouldn't be caught in a picture in undress, she even donned a necklace for the occasion.
Gerri, Mokuh, Gina
Am not sure now if it's a thorn between two roses, or...? Naw, three roses, three roses!

When I mentioned how difficult parting from Gerri would be he replied with these words:
"Talking about departure, i can't still believe it. time is running fast. It is very painful to leave and i don't know to go about but it seems separation is inevitable. Am only consoled by these words of the Blessed Beauty "Rely upon God, thy God and the lord of thy fathers;"
The mystery and wisdom in separation are found in the following words of the Ancient Beauty:
"Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart's desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved."  (Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
we love her so much, but her ultimate desire is to return to the land of her best beloved."
What is there to add to that?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Risen again

I saw Gerri today. The visit was scheduled, so I went even though she is in the hospital. As Gina needed to do some things, I drove her to her appointments and Mokuh and I went for a quick lunch. (Gerri emphatically said today that 'Bart' is a manly abbreviation in North America for Bartholomew, so that's what Mokuh should be called. Really? Manly? I couldn't get rid of Bart Simpson's image firmly stuck in my mind.)

Gina told me about the ambulance pickups of the last two days. On Sunday morning an ambulance crew of six arrived, five looked after Gerri, and one, she said, was exclusively caring for her. She was so pleased and astonished.

If you've ever cared for a person who is that ill, you'll know how very draining that is, and how it can seriously jeopardize the health of the care taker. So when she told me that one Paramedic looked at her and made sure that she was OK, it reminded me that our much maligned health care system ultimately consists of the people that work in it, and so far the ones Gerri and Gina have encountered are the very, very best!

Gerri has a private room. Close to the nurses' station. Here she sat, in front of a little table that looks like a little desk, a steam mask over her mouth and nose, reading something. She has risen again, and her indomitable spirit has once again taken charge. She had a ten-star night, she said. The steam was for her lungs, as she has a nasty lung infection. She'll be in the hospital for this week. When asked for details of her condition, she said she didn't listen much to the doctor's explanation, it doesn't matter, she gives herself up to the doctor's and nurses' care, and, she pointed out, she had three of her own nurses! The goal is to get her treatment plan (meds, etc) organized in such a way that she can go home and continue to be stable.

Gerri had no money with her for the TV lady. I had my notebook with me and could provide her with her own credit card information, just like a PA should. This whole scenario reminded me of something... Let's see: Gerri is attended hand and foot, has her own nurses, holds court behind her little desk, and carries no money... Wait, yes, so like The Queen!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When the body can't keep up

Gerri is in hospital. Her spirit was so high, so joyful on Friday, but her body reminded her cruelly the next morning that it has cancer. On Saturday morning she couldn't breath and was picked up by ambulance and rushed to the hospital. They gave her oxygen and stabilized her and she was back home in the afternoon.

The cancer is relentlessly advancing and not being able to breath brings its progress to the next, very scary level. Gerri mentioned in passing on Friday that she was laughing so much, feeling so well, waiting for Mokuh to arrive, that she coughed up some flam, so, she said, if she wouldn't have been able to laugh so hard, she wouldn't have realized that she had pneumonia too. Always seeing the bright side...

This morning at 6 am Gerri was delirious, raving actually, and had to be rushed to the hospital again. She'll be there for a few days. They were able to give her an air bed to make her more comfortable. She is so weak now that it's hard to give her intravenous treatments, or even diagnose what type of pneumonia she has.

When she gets back home she'll have to have oxygen in place. She won't be able to be without it now. Gina will make sure of that.

You know, I can't get a picture out of my mind. At CFB Comox they train glider pilots all summer, I live close by. I see Gerri's spirit as the tow plane, her body as the glider, it's the end of the season. The plane has faithfully towed the glider to altitude, dropped the tether, let the glider soar, and, when it landed, picked it up again, all season long. Soon, I think, the tow plane will drop the tether the last time and keep flying into the sun set.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Angels on his shoulders

Gerri, Barthi, Gina
First off, Bartholomew is safely here. He spent the night in Comox and Jan drove him to Campbell River this morning. Gerri is elated, delirious (her word) with joy (my clarification), she sounds like her old self, strong. And, on top of it all, today, Gerri had NO PAIN!. That's the short of it.

Here is the long of it.
Bartholomew flew from Baltimore to Dallas, to Vancouver, to Comox. He initially had 1hr 30min. in Vancouver to clear customs, claim his bag, walk to CMA, check in, go through security, take off for a 9:30pm departure. When I checked his Dallas flight it was 30 minutes late, and I started having small twinges of concern. I was thinking of customs and how they can be...

At 9:00pm the phone rang. The conversation went something like this: (IO = Immigration Officer, M = Me)
IO "Hello, I am with Immigration at Vancouver Airport, Mrs. Henriksson, are you expecting someone tonight?"
M "Yes, I am expecting Bartholomew Mokuh."
IO "He is standing right here. How do you know him?"
M "He is the son, well, adopted son, of a very good friend of mine."
IO "Have you met him before?"
M "No, I haven't."
IO "So you don't know him."
M "No not him personally, but I know my friend and how close they are, and that's enough for me."
IO "What's her name? How did they meet?"
M "Gerri Graber. He worked with her in Chad, she lived there for 5 years. She is not his birth mother, but she is close to him like a mother, and she is dying and he is coming to visit her, is there a problem?"
IO (concerned voice) "Oh, he didn't tell me that. Why did he tell me that he just came to visit  friends?"
M "Perhaps he didn't think it was important for you to know that detail. Besides, he is right, he is visiting friends, he has a lot of friends here. They are all waiting for him. Look officer, his flight is leaving in 30 minutes, it's a long walk, will he make it? Would you be able to point him in the right direction, or have an agent help him find the CMA counter?"
IO "We can't usually help in this way. But he'll be OK, the airport is not busy. He can go right now."
M "Thank you."
My twinge of concern grew to more of a pinch.

At 9:30 pm the phone rang again.
M "Hello!"
IO "Hi, we talked earlier, I am with Immigration?"
M "Yes?"
IO "Just wanted to tell you that Mr. Bartholomew made the flight; I saw him checking in, he is on the flight."
M "Thank you so much for calling. That's very kind of you!"
Relief flooded through me.

At 10:10 at the airport, about 8 people deplaned, all white, no Mokuh. Was just about to check with an agent, thinking perhaps he was going through to Campbell River by mistake, and another passenger, a young man approached me and asked if I was waiting for someone off the flight. Yes, a black man, I said. He'll be here, he said, he was paged with a message and was talking to an agent.

And there he was. Tall, lanky, eyes a little glazed with fatigue, and tentatively smiling. After a quick, relieved hug, I asked him about the message. Well, apparently the Immigration Officer noticed that my business card was left on his desk and became concerned that Mokuh was arriving without contact information, meeting someone he didn't know. So he sent a message to CMA with that information in case Mokuh had to call me... Mokuh later told me that in Vancouver, after hanging up the phone, the Officer called CMA, asked them to hold the flight, grabbed Mokuh by the arm, marched with him to the CMA counter, and made sure he made the flight.

I told you, it was the long of it. What a story though. Unfortunately we don't know the name of this Officer, but the Immigration Department will hear about this. There are people who are truly kind Angels in disguise.

We didn't know either that Mo, Gerri's brother-in-law (I hope I got that right) was also at the Vancouver airport. Concerned that Bartholomew might miss the flight to Comox, they hoped to find him and would have put him up for the night. Angels abounded.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Busy days for Gerri

We are getting into a groove now. When I read Gerri's messages and call to tell her who has written and what needs doing, I get a sense that her days are quite full with appointments of visiting care-takers, therapists of one kind or another, nurses, the cable guy (yes, really). There's lots of administrative stuff to do that nobody thinks of until their days veer into the extraordinary.

The drug schedule alone takes a lot of organizing. Take this pill before food, this one with and that one after. Some every four hours. Gina has to get up even at night to administer pain meds at regular intervals. But with this rigid schedule the terrible pain seems to be under better control. No wonder that regular naps are in order for both women, whenever possible.

Her visitor schedule is also full. Tomorrow her brother will arrive, leaves the next day, then Bartholomew, after that her sister, and so on. Well into February. Time is getting very precious. So, again, dear friends, Gerri is asking for your understanding that she has to limit visitors, phone calls, deliveries, and other interruptions to conserve her strength.

Some friends mentioned that they tried to leave a comment on the blog, but I have not received notification of it. All comments are monitored to avoid being spammed. If you like to leave a comment, Gerri will hear about it. At the bottom right of each post is a link to "0 comments". Click on that and you'll see a comment form. All comments are approved if they are from a legitimate source.

Bartholomew is so looking forward to his visit and has sent some pictures he calls Souvenirs from Africa, in the meantime. The menu link is on the top right of the right sidebar.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gerri read her blog and liked it

I saw Gerri yesterday. She was home from the hospital, I hadn't seen her for a week. What a difference a week can make. The terrible pain spikes Gerri is going through takes away a bit of her strength every time. As a consequence Gerri was a bit dopey, but her pain was controlled. The transfer from the hospital to the apartment went well and she could navigate the few steps to her floor. So, I expected her to lay down for a nap in the hospital bed in the living room, but she rallied and we sat down and opened her computer. We went through the email messages and then she read all of the posts on the blog, including your comments.

It's Gerri's blog and she insisted that I add my picture to it, so that people could see who is writing the posts. I objected, but, if you know Gerri, that doesn't get you very far. You can't argue with the woman. So, I added my picture, but I have my sun glasses on!

Gerri's focus now is on her son's visit, her beloved Bartholomew Mokuh (with the unpronounceable last name). I think I'll start calling him Mokuh now, or Barthi, as he is also known... Bartholomew is a mouth full. He'll see her next Friday, arriving on the Island from Baltimore on Thursday night in Comox. He'll spend the night at my place, and is picked up to be driven to Campbell River next day. In one of his emails he hinted at his eventful relationship with Gerri, I think there might be a book in that story.

Then I remembered that I had this on my desktop from April last year. Didn't want to loose it. It's an interview with Gerri, giving a tiny glimpse into the life of the woman we all love. 'My Hand on the Bush".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Home Tomorrow?

That's the plan. Gina is traveling this evening back to Campbell River to prepare to receive Gerri home from the hospital. Yesterday Gerri had a good day. Arrangements have now been made for Gerri's beloved son, Bartholomew, to visit her next week. He is traveling from Baltimore to see her. So let's all think good thoughts that the weather furies take a break from January 20 to 24.

It's too long to tell here, but if you know Gerri's story and its twists and turns that started to unfold last summer, you'd also know that Bahá'u'lláh had orchestrated every moment of it perfectly. So, I am sure that He'll continue to supervise the next few weeks, weather, visits, and all. Actually, if any of us were in charge of getting that many 'ducks in a row'--and the waters were thick with ducks--we wouldn't have been able to do it.

Think good thoughts anyway!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prayers and Good Wishes for Gerri

Today I called Gina in Powell River. I need to know how to handle a couple of organizational matters. While I was on the phone with Gina, not more than 5-7 minutes, she received 3 (three) more calls on call waiting. She told me that the phone has not stopped ringing and she is not able to do anything else! It is shocking to me to realize how frantic things can get when you are close to someone who is preparing to leave this world. There are some things Gina needs to do in Powell River before she gets back to Campbell River, and with the phone ringing off the hook she may now have to delay her return. Gerri cannot go back home from the hospital without having Gina there and her place organized for the care she needs.

Please, friends, unless you have some urgent matter to discuss with Gina, don't call her for updates on, or good wishes for Gerri. We are trying to keep you updated here.

Gerri has had another pain crisis, but as she was in the hospital it could be treated and she has pulled through.

A couple of months ago Gerri asked that no healing prayers be said for her. The following was sent to me by a Bahá'í friend and may be of interest to the Bahá'ís amongst Gerri's friends:
"... a bit of information received by me and a few others at a meeting,  many years ago from Hand of The Cause Mr. Khadem. Someone in the group I was in asked  Mr. Khadem about the wisdom of saying "healing" prayers for someone that is very ill and it is well known that the person is not going to recover from the illness (or near death) condition.
He said: "When this is a condition determined by the professionals that the patient may be  approaching the next world, even though they have not passed yet, say the prayer for the departed for them as it assists them in the transition from this world to the next".
... I'm not suggesting you do that in this case. I am simply passing along helpful information from a certainly knowledgeable person, (in case you had not heard it previously), as a note of comfort for all of us."
I, for one will take it to heart.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Feeling better

Gina, Gerri's sister went home for a few days to Powell River. She is preparing for a longer stay when she gets back. Meantime Gerri is safely in the hospital, soaking up their care and the peace and quiet she needs so badly.

When I was visiting on Friday--Gerri went to the hospital that night--I couldn't believe the constant activity that was going on in her place. She is too weak to take these disruptions. It's all to do with organizing support systems, which need people to come and install things, etc. So, at the end of this week, when Gina gets back to Campbell River, Gerri will be back home and, hopefully, all the organizing is done and over with.

I just came across a note Gerri sent to Vena, that explains why she is not afraid at all. Perhaps it helps you to understand better. (I hope you don't mind, Vena.)
Gerri wrote: "No need to worry. I'm not the least bit worried myself. Broken is what the dying process is all about, and there is no recovery. My spirit is too strong for this broken body and wishes only for release from it." then she quoted Baha'u'llah: "O Son of Spirit!  Burst thy cage asunder, and even as the Phoenix of Love, soar into the firmament of holiness.  Renounce thyself, and filled with the spirit of mercy, abide in the realms of celestial sanctity."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

You have found Gerri's blog...

This is a journal with brief updates on Gerri's condition for her friends. Most of you know that she is very ill with terminal cancer. On January 7, after a week of very bad days of pain and sleepless nights Gerri went to the Hospital in Campbell River. She will be there for a few days. Today already she is feeling better because her pain is now being better managed and she could sleep.

She'll be back home in the middle of next week. Please everyone, Gerri knows of your concern. She is welcoming your good thoughts and prayers, but she wants you to know that she is no longer able to receive visitors, deliveries, phone calls, or respond to her email.

Some of you know me, Marianne Henriksson. I will be keeping you updated here. I am handling Gerri's email correspondence and will generally act as her personal assistant. If you wish to communicate your thoughts and wishes to her, leave a comment here. If you have any urgent, ongoing business with Gerri, or you just need her to act on anything, write her an email and I'll make sure that you'll get a response.

If you know Gerri, you know that she is not afraid to leave this physical world and is looking forward to journey to the spiritual one.