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.