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Monday, October 26, 2009


cosmic chagall #4

The fullness of what's going on in my heart today is such a complexity of feelings, it's like all possible feelings were stuffed into a blender and turned on HI. It's another cup runneth over day, and in its own way. It feels like I have terminal weariness. I want a nap, but the phone has rung so many times today from people wanting to know about Jr, and Hospice, I know I'll be woke if I don't turn off the phone, but I don't feel right about that today, because today felt crucial to be awake. A little bit ago I wet a washcloth with cold water and held it to my face. It felt like my whole face was crying, not just my eyes, like a waterfall of tears flowing down my entire face. I've never had such a feeling before.

It was every feeling there is to cause tears from highest joy to deepest sorrow and all in between. Why don't I sit down and cry? Because it hasn't happened yet. An hour or more ago Elvira Crouse came by to see Jr. They grew up together, same church, same school, near neighbors, and live now almost a half mile apart. She told me when they went to high school in Sparta there was no bus the first two years. They walked to Sparta and back together every day those two years, about 4 miles each way. To them, they're the same as brother and sister.

He was about as far gone in deep sleep as I've seen him when she went into the bedroom to see him. She leaned down and spoke gently into his ear, telling him who she was, talked to him, and he responded yes and no appropriately. He was hearing her and it was registering, only he wasn't able to respond. She talked to him like that quite a bit and I had to leave the room. Knowing that observers change things, I didn't want to interfere. I wanted them to have this moment to themselves, as it may likely be the last. That's the mental justification. What happened was I had to get out of there because my heart was overflowing and I had to have my space too.

At 5:30 this morning I woke and saw Jr sitting up in the wheelchair. The last 4 days not an ounce of energy to move with, refusing anything but a sip of water maybe twice a day. It likely took him an hour to get from the bed to the wheelchair, which was beside the bed, but it was a major effort. I got up and went to him, asked if he wanted on the pot. No. Bed? No. You want to sit in the chair? Yes. Of course, there was no way I could get back to sleep, so I sat looking at some newspapers Dean Richardson drops off for me every few days. I'd go ask Jr if he'd like pottie chair, bed or wheelchair. It was the chair every time. He just wanted to sit up, evidently.

At 8:05 I called the Hospice office pleading for help. Before the Hospice nurse arrived, Robin stopped in on her way home from work. She is a nurse in the Wilkes hospital. Jr was thirsty. He wasn't satisfied with the little sponges any more. I keep little bottles of water in the refrigerator. He drank about 16oz of water, about 4oz of applejuice, and 2/3 of a jug of ensure. I was in awe. Hospice nurse arrived and investigated vital signs, found his blood pressure a little low. We put him in the bed and he went to sleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.

Robin and I sat at the table with coffee and talked a while. Bill Joines came along, one of Jr's musician friends, son of one of Jr's musician friends, good guitar picker and singer. He wanted to check in on how Jr is doing. Jr was so sound asleep he looked actually dead and it gave me a chill until I saw sign of breathing. Ross came up from the shop and we had good conversation all the way around, Bill and Ross talking about the cars Bill used to drive.

There was a period of time that the phone never rang and I talked with 4 different people. The phone has 'call waiting,' which I prefer to ignore, but now that Hospice is involved, I don't want to miss a chance that it might be from there. 4 in a row like that and not one from Hospice, all of them people wanting to hear how Jr is doing and offering whatever help I might need. All the conversations concerned how near Jr is, wanting to be advised of changes.

I'd called Elvira earlier, believing she might remember Jr getting saved and baptized. She couldn't recall. I told her he'd told me he was baptized in the baptizing hole by the bridge near the old Whitehead mill. She wanted to get in touch with Irene Wagoner to find out who might have the church records for 1935, thereabouts, to see when/if he joined the church at Liberty. She believed he'd joined the church; getting saved and baptized precede joining the church. It seemed they were excited about it, in that they were afraid Jr might not be saved, as he never went to church and went his own way his whole life. Elvira said Jr lived his life with compassion, treated everybody right and was always doing something to help somebody. This is becoming an important question now to Jr's closest friends. They ask me and I tell them what he said about the baptizing, and I always add that the light in Jr Maxwell's soul is so bright the darkness won't receive it.

I would, however, like to have some statistics to go by, like church records, if such can be found, and if he's there. I've come to know the Jr within that not many others know. He's told me things he doesn't tell around and doesn't care to have told around, his beliefs where God and integrity are concerned. To Jr, that is a subject he never talks about, because he doesn't believe it can be talked about. It's private to everyone. Jr is a man to pray in the closet, not in the street. He's never trusted people who wear religion on their sleeve. His inner life is no one else's business, only his own. I'd like to have something concrete to cite, because his friends asking are sincere and love Jr enough to want to be able to see him in heaven upon his departure from his earthly body. It's real in them and I respect it in them and hope I can find a document that verifies it. It will make an awful lot of people happy, and would be told all around. All of Whitehead will be happy to know Jr Maxwell is where their love for him wants him to be.

Not many months ago Jr said to me he didn't know if he was going to heaven or hell. All I could say was, hell wouldn't have you. He looked at me funny, trying to see in my eyes just how I meant that. I smiled lightly to let him know I meant it literally. Elvira gave me the word compassion today, a definition of Jr Maxwell in one word. Strangely, though I've seen it for years, the word compassion regarding Jr didn't come to me til today, from someone who knew him since they were babies.

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