This morning a visit from Hospice director to inform me that I can take several hours in a day off with volunteers sitting in while I'm gone. I know they do and they're a great service. Several of Jr's friends and relatives offer to help. The nurses and aides who come to the house are saying I need a break, everyone says I need a break. I'm with all of it. Only problem is, when I'm not there with Jr, I feel like I'm wasting my time and don't know what to do. I watch movies and a little of this and that, but a good movie seems to flow right by me. I'm not where I'm supposed to be.
All day I've been remembering the time when I was first in the mountains, at Tom Pruitt's house one evening he told me the people here didn't know they were poor until Roaring Gap came in and told them they were poor. Whether or not it's the case, these are the dots Tom connected to explain where the understanding that mountain living was poverty came from. They thought they had a good life. Now I'm being told I have stress and I need help and one thing and another. I didn't know this before I was told. I don't know. I do know that when pushed too far I can snap and make myself clear in no uncertain terms. But I need to do more of that anyway.
I've felt this kind of stress before and made it through. Today I was asked if I have any plans for after Jr. Only to go home. My purpose for being there will be over the moment of his last breath, and the leavings are for other people to fuss and worry over. I don't want any of it. I will have fulfilled my commitment to my friend and that will be that. It has nothing to do with anyone else. It's between me and Jr only. I do anticipate a rush of family and friends thanking me for what I've done for Jr, and I'll accept and be gracious, because they're sincere. By now Jr's relatives and friends have become my friends. All good people, the kind of people you want for friends. Joineses by nature are super fine people, anyway every one I've known. Jr's mother was a Joines and Edwards.
I don't mean to discredit the people who recognize stress when they see it. It's just that after a day of examining how I feel, it turns out I don't want time off except when I need it for something like a BROC meeting or doctor appointment, Kermit's barber shop, grocery store, like that. And time out for the occasional movie. It turns out the movies I like tend to be 2.5 to 3 hours long, so I see them 1st half one sitting, 2nd half another. There is also the consideration that the cats are stressed with me being gone so much. I believe they understand. I've told them I'm helping a friend in a difficult time.
Sonya Joines's column in this week's Alleghany News was just right. She wrote of how our animal friends lay down and die when we their human friends pay them no mind. I remember a case maybe 10 years ago or less of a baby a young girl left with her grandmother who didn't want it. The baby died after 2 weeks. No one touched it. No one talked to or held it. The baby died from absence of love same as it would from absence of food. When the mother of my cats left her babies with me the day their eyes opened, I knew they needed mother love as much as food. Vet told me they wouldn't live, but I knew they would. I'd already turned on mother love.
Several years ago I pulled up to park at the vets and saw a young donkey in the back of a pickup that was dying. The man told me it's mother died and it can't stand up. I knew what the problem was. I knew the baby would die. I also knew I could bring it back to life, but I'd have to take it home and spend a lot of time with it, turning on the love and feeding it by hand with love. I wanted to do that, but told myself this is not my business. I can't save the world.
I don't know if the donkey survived, though I doubt it. All it needed was mother love. I've often wondered since then if I could have talked the man into letting me take it home to bring it back to life. It seemed a bit presumptuous to me to tell a stranger I know more than he does about raising his stock. Too many subtle complexities involved. If I'd have brought it home, I could have never returned it, because loving it back to life I would have to fall in love with it and then couldn't part with it. All this ran through my head and I had to leave it be.
A little girl of around 7 was with the man, his daughter. I had a feeling I could convince her that she could bring the baby donkey to life by loving it, by taking care of it as her pet, like a kitten, be its special friend, be it's mother. I believed she could do that. But I wasn't convinced her daddy would think much of a total stranger telling his little girl to fall in love with the donkey. I believed he would not get it as much as I believed she would.
Again, too murky a territory to enter concerning somebody else's business. I imagined he'd heard legends as I had in my teens of donkeys and Candy whatever her name was in a Tijuana bar. Of course, her daddy's first thought about me would be a pre-vert, and it just wouldn't work out. I can't help it when a possum runs under my tire from the side of the road. There's a lot I can't help. But there is some I can help. It's up to me to learn the difference.
I believe there is a fine line between the two. Old-time religion says that helping somebody is "works" and works don't matter to God, so let them suffer, it's none of your business. I don't hold with that. Like what I'm doing with Jr I don't consider "works" and I wouldn't care if I did. I consider it making my world a better place by helping a major figure in my world in perhaps the hardest time of his life, the helpless time of his life. Works or not, works is neither here nor there to me. My only concern is that Jr Maxwell not die of despair abandoned to the lumberyard of nursing homes. I believe Jr Maxwell an extraordinary human being, a rare individual, and it a God sent opportunity for me to be with him in this time. When Dean Richardson said we need a preacher to pray over Jr, I didn't say it but thought, I pray over him all day every day. It's prayer from the heart that God hears.
I learned today he was baptized May of 1934. I'm glad to have that for the many who will want to know, sincerely want to know. This one date from church record will settle many a concern, because Jr didn't have any piety in his life or self-righteousness, those behavioral characteristics that identify the righteous. He is merely a humble man who called no attention to his humility. Jr's humility is a part of who his is, not something dictated by s'posed-to and affected for show. The way I see it, someone walking truly the pilgrim way will always be mistaken as not in line with God's teachings (church dogma), and when his time comes to pass on, many would question his salvation because he made no show of it. He only lived it.