When I Consider Thy Heavens

ShipwreckWriter Blog

Am I My Brother's Keeper? On Adult Guardianship

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on March 7, 2010 at 6:28 AM Comments comments (0)

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris

 

Over a lifetime, most of us run onto someone who needs our help. Sometimes the person is living alone and has a physical disability. Sometimes the person has a mental illness that worsens due to situations or medical changes with the person and you have noticed the person (although he/she may not even realize it) needs help.

 

How do you go about helping a neighbor get the help that he/she may never seek on his/her own? Here is a good website that explains the process of petitioning the courts on behalf of a person who needs someone to oversee their needs: http://www.ddas.vermont.gov/ddas-publications/guardianship/guardianship-publications/guardians-adults-mental-disabilities

 

In Kansas, you may call the SRS hotline to report self-abuse or self-neglect if you know a person who is not taking care of themselves and there are health or safety issues that threaten their life . Information about the APS (Adult Protective Services) can be found on this website: http://www.srskansas.org/ISD/ees/adult.htm

 

We had a neighbor who had a mental illness. She was a beautiful woman with a Christian heritage. Life became too much for her and one day she snapped and we never saw the person we knew again. As neighbors, we all tried to watch out for her, some giving her rides to town, others helping with care around her home. But even with this community oversight, she deteriorated.

 

One evening I was driving home in the fog and came upon this woman standing in the middle of the highway. Luckily, I wasn’t going very fast at all as it was at the corner where I needed to turn. On another occasion, I found her standing in a ditch, aimlessly standing without moving. I stopped and told her it would be dark soon and perhaps she should head back home. I would find her along the highway on may way to or from work and stop to offer her a ride in either direction. Many of the neighbors did the same thing. One day this woman told me thanks for my kind smile. She said that in this world she did not often see anyone smile at her. How sad.

 

Finally, this woman’s family intervened and she is in the good care of a care facility where she is free to come and go on walks and outings. She is now safe. I was frustrated at the amount of time that it took to get her the help she needed. I do believe that in Kansas, people try to protect the privacy and rights of others and allow them to remain independent. But there is a fine line between independence and health and safety risks.

 

It is wrong to butt in and take away someone’s rights. That is not really even possible to do in Kansas. That is why in Kansas we have probate court where the court makes that decision – not any one individual unless the person themselves makes this determination. At times, the SRS is involved, but this is not a requirement. Any person may independently petition the court for review of someone’s health and safety in consideration for guardianship. An agency may petition the courts. You may also contact the Kansas Guardianship Program who will know about the process to find help for someone whose health and safety are in jeopardy. You may contact them at: http://www.ksgprog.org/

 

How to know when to intervene? Apply The Golden Rule. It works every time. I worked as a licensed Case Manager for a decade and presently work as a Service Coordinator for the elderly. Although people are on your caseload and you get to know them to some extent, sometimes you run upon a total stranger who needs your help. No matter what the setting or situation I have always tried to ask myself, "What would I do if this person was my mother, my sister, my child, or my brother? 

 

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

So Much Sorrow

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 25, 2010 at 6:43 AM Comments comments (0)

So Much Sorrow

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris

 

It’s sometimes hard to keep one's spirits up in down times. This morning, I am filled with sorrow and look forward to my commute to my far-away job for once. I can tune in to K-LOVE radio or some such station and hear some positive words. The news on Channel 12 and 10 sends me out the door so sad.

 

My mother is having health problems - thinking it is her heart. We lost my dad when I was 18 to a heart attack many years ago. Whenever something good happens to me - like when a publsher accepted my book for publication and when someone donates to our Lighthouse Library project - the first thing I do is call my mom! Who is the first person you call when you are really happy and want to share good news?

 

There was a horrible wreck near the Oklahoma/Kansas line on the interstate last night. A semi hit a car and four people were killed. Those stories leave me sobbing – thinking of the families who will receive the call to inform them of their loss. Our prayers go out to them.

 

Having lost a daughter to a wreck, I know the sorrow that follows such a call. But I wanted to share this morning how thankful I remain that our son is fine after a horrible accident earlier this year. He was ejected from his truck that left the roadway on a curve and tumbled top over end several times down into a deep ravine. He was found semi-conscious out in a pasture. I hope I remember each and very day to thank God for his life and hope I tell him how much he means to me.

 

There is really no point to this post – other than to express my thoughts on our troubled times in our nation and personally. The headlines speak of job loss and hard times. But there is hope if we keep our hearts open to hear the Lord’s guidance in our lives.

 

Hope you all have a good day.

 

Here is a verse that our daughter just loved - one of her last journal posts: “This is the day the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Is That All There Is?

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 21, 2010 at 8:41 AM Comments comments (1)

Is That All There Is?

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris

 

Have you ever reached a huge hope or goal in your life only to find yourself feeling a little empty inside? I remember when I was in high school and was crowned Basketball Queen at my school. The “joy” lasted about five minutes and then I soon realized that there was also an emptiness to any honor we are bestowed in this life. There is an old song, "Is That All There Is - Then Let's Keep Dancing" (Peggy Lee) that describes this feeling well. http://popup.lala.com/popup/576742296245050749

 

This is perhaps our reminder that we are just passing through. This life is temporary. Each of us will die one day – some all too early. Others will live a long life, but still, all of our lives on this earth will end. We work so hard to try to have fun and grab any piece of joy out there – and there is really nothing wrong with that in itself. But the first time one realizes that earthly things only provide a temporary happiness, maybe that is when we realize that there is really nothing in this life that brings lasting joy. But we are assured that we can live a peaceful life, in spite of life’s circumstances.

 

This week, the HUD property where I serve as the Service Coordinator filled the last available unit there. There are at least ten if not fifteen people on the waiting list hoping to get in to live at our community. The property manager and I have worked well together to make this happen. He knows first-hand how hard I’ve worked to assist our individuals with getting the things they need – be it food, medical services, or home-health aids. He knows of all the social service programs that I have started – the library with a computer lab in the making, the on-site beauty salon with a wig and hat shop offering “make-overs” and “Red Hat’ group days. He knows of the many religious groups scheduled and the regular services and Bible studies on site. The calendar is jam-packed with activities and services for our elderly tenants. The atmosphere has experienced a 180 degree turn – it is now a community with a good reputation.

 

Recently, everyone dressed up in their best finery and we had a Valentine banquet. It was so good and fun to see everyone having fun and all dressed up. The holiday celebrations have been great, Christmas celebration, Thanksgiving Dinner, fall festival, end-of-summer picnic, and other parties. How fun to look back over my time there.

 

But for now, I am thinking of our young manager and the sadness in his eyes after a job well done. He is not the sort of person who just sits behind a desk and takes applications to our property. He listens – really listens to our elderly residents. He goes out of his way to help them if they need something carried to their apartment. His door is usually open for them to enter in and talk. Even when we are having a challenging day, he never takes it out on them. The one thing that has remained constant with him in his attitude is his love for the elderly who reside in our property.

 

On the very day that he thought he would be on top of the world, he was not. He had finally moved the last person into the last available apartment with the waiting list full. But where was the fanfare? Where was the pat on the back? Where was the joy from within? All seemed to be missing. All of us have experience that revelation in our own lives. We have gained something that we thought was highly desired only to find – it only holds a brief happiness followed by the inevitable emptiness of life.

 

I believe that we each are born with a space in our heart that only God can fill. No amount of fame, fortune, job success, titles, or honors can fill that hole. Years ago, our kids had a musical series we used called “The Donut Hole”. It addressed this very subject - a silly little song with a good message.

http://www.donutman.com/?page=cds&album_id=3452781

 

I sent my co-worker an e-mail to congratulate him. No one had congratulated me either – but it was OK. I wanted him to know that someone noticed his hard work and kindness to the residents. As I stood in his office to go home for the weekend, a huge floral arrival came to him. It was a large basket filled with all sorts of fresh fruit – grapes, bananas, apples of all colors, and it was decorated beautifully. It had a huge balloon attached over the top of it that read: “Congratulations!” I was glad he had received his due respect and recognition.

 

It was OK with me that I didn’t get such a nice delivery. It was Friday and getting to leave work and go home for the weekend was honor enough for me. Receiving a paycheck to help feed my family was reward enough. But the twenty years I had on me past this young manager's age made me feel so happy for him as he looked at the delivery on his desk.

 

He read the attached card which read: “You did a great job !Love, Mom.”

 

The whole world may not notice our good works or our accomplishments. We may not all have mothers who are so thoughtful or into our lives. But we do all have a Heavenly Father who notices everything we do and say. He sees the way we treat others. He knows our every thought. I imagine He hopes we come to realize that our joy from within comes from our sacrifice of praise to Him, not from anything we do ourselves. And that our lives here are so brief. But we have an eternity of joy and happiness to look forward to.

 

I look back at past titles and awards I have received. It was nice of others to put their confidence me. My mother still enjoys listing my accomplishments in life. Bless her. But it really doesn’t matter when all is said and done. All we leave behind is the love we shared with others. I pray for my co-worker every day. I pray that he will come to realize that even when no one else notices you or your efforts (except maybe your mom), the Lord does notice and care deeply for each of us.

 

Ecclesiastes 1 http://www.bible-media.com/kjv/ecclesiastes-1.php

 

Ecclesiastes 2 http://www.bible-media.com/kjv/ecclesiastes-2.php

 

Reliving A Neck Injury

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on January 26, 2010 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Reliving A Neck Injury

Lynn Pettigrew Norris

 

One thing I learned about having a neck injury (the first time) was that I never ever wanted to have one again. My first neck injury happened when my car was totaled by a semi truck in North Carolina in 1987. My second one happened in Winfield, Kansas in a car wreck in 2000. And my third one happened in Wichita, Kansas five weeks ago (2010).

 

A person just knows when a semi rams your car that it’s going to hurt. Unbuckling my seat belt in an attempt to get over from the side where the semi was overturning only caused my head and neck to serve as a ping pong ball as I bounced back and forth across the front seat of my car hitting the car windows & other interior objects hard each time I slammed into one.

 

The military hospital did the traditional things – put a neck collar on me. They tested for any neurological damage by having me grasp items. I wore that neck collar for weeks. During the first few days, the injury actually seemed to feel worse as swelling came on. I experiences very odd sensations of numbness and pain in my arms, chest, and upper back. The thing I hated the worst was the numbness across my back and the numbness down my left arm.

 

Being injured caused me to eventually feel hopeless somewhere in the middle of my healing. It seemed like I would be in pain for the rest of my life. After about six weeks, my neck felt better and I did not have to wear the neck collar any longer. Soon, I was back in the swing of life and raising four young children and enjoying all the activity that goes along with that effort. I was able to keep up and the neck injury was something I never forgot, but tried not to remember often.

 

My second wreck that caused a neck injury came about a year after our daughter was killed in a motor vehicle accident. Actually, it was one year to the day. This was not the way I wanted to spend that anniversary date. But life does not always present us with an alternative to hard times.

 

The all too familiar neck collar was put on my neck as soon as I got to the exam room. Since I had already had a neck injury, scans were ordered. The damage was similar to the first neck injury with lots of swelling and muscles that were torn. This time, my shoulders were also involved and my chest wall muscles. I not only had a whiplash type neck injury, but had slammed my brakes while gripping the steering wheel and tensing up in an attempt to get stopped before my car slammed into a car that darted out from an intersection directly in front of me. I imagined a lightning strike that blows a burn hole in its victim (is that really true?). Using that analogy, I imagined the force of energy blowing out muscles in my neck and shoulders as the impact of the wreck traveled from the front of my car and up my spine.

 

This time, I was older and my body did not rebound quite as fast or as well. I attempted to return to work several weeks after the accident, but only lasted a few days before returning to my doctor. We tried different combinations of shortened work days and lighter duty with door tensions lessened, but nothing was working to assure I was able to continue my job duties. The doctor took my off the job and sat me in a chair so I could heal.

 

During this time, I underwent weeks of physical therapy. The muscle rubs hurt and felt good all at the same time. The physical therapy work always hurt. I never understood why the therapists pushed you to feeling more pain. I “obeyed” on most days. One day in particular, I felt my muscles ripping and refused the therapy. I was not ready to try to lift myself up off the bed using my arms. The thought of that still makes my neck and upper back hurt. Did that therapist have me mixed up with someone with just an arm injury? I am thankful for those therapists and through the years, if I ever had a bad day with pain, I remembered how patient they were and how great their hot steaming towels felt on aching muscles.

 

This time, my body is older still. It is as though it is telling me that it has had enough of the mistreatment that I always put it through. For the past seven years, I have worked double duty at a full-time job and starting and running a community non-profit resource center. This meant helping people who needed food or other items. It meant constant lifting and loading items. Then for the resource center, I had a hand in loading and hauling the 20,000 book collection for the library that our resource center is building for our hometown. I also loaded and hauled all the items that people donated for the thrift store that will generate funds for the library. This was all too much physical labor. Add to this abuse, my husband and I produced a community newspaper and later a magazine spending all-nighters in order to meet the printing deadline and get the papers or magazines delivered.

 

The final straw was when I worked to provide a great Christmas for 100 elderly individuals. I lifted and hauled their food boxes. I loaded and hauled their Christmas gifts. Then of course all of these items had to be unloaded, stored, and then moved to the big community room for their big party. I also put together 100 goodie bags filled with oranges, apples, cookies, and candy, calling on my assembly line experience from decades ago as I filled all the bags with each item on the list. It was an exhausting day. I still remember the kick that ripped my neck out and also my shoulders. I had each arm loaded down with several bags of fruit and at the same time used my legs to kick a microwave (a gift for one of the individuals) and other gifts that were stacked on top of the microwave, sliding them from my office and down the hall and onto the elevator. Once downstairs, I had to continue my deliberate kicking motions to continue sliding the microwave and other gifts into the community room. By this time, my arms felt literally ripped out from the weight of the heavy fruit.

 

My neck didn’t hurt at all that night. I just felt exhausted. But the next day, I woke up to some pain. By the second day, it felt locked up and I could feel every muscle that was overextended. Fortunately and unfortunately, it was the day before Christmas Eve and my last day at work before the Christmas break. I was out of commission for our family Christmas and had to tell the other family members how to cook the food and do all the things I usually take care of for our Christmas meal and get together.

What does it mean when you relive things (unpleasant things) in your life again and again? Maybe things just happen and that’s life. But on the chance that there is some lesson that I was or am supposed to learn in this current unpleasant valley, I hope I figure out what it is very soon. No matter what the cause or reason, I just want this pain to end.

 

For the past five weeks, I have lived in constant and at times unbearable pain. One the pain scale, I would call it a nine most of the time, having childbirth and/or migraine headaches both as tens on the pain scale. Today my doctor told me that my neck and shoulders are really messed up – not words you want to hear from your doctor.

 

For now, I have to suffer for a few more days and weeks just to see if this neck injury is going to get better. If it does not, I will have to have scans done. I can hardly breathe just thinking of the machine (sort of like a tomb) that they lock you in to get pictures of your spine. The last time I had a scan done, in an attempt to divert my attention from the fact that I was held captive in the machine and that it was really loud, I planned a vacation to the constant rhythm of the CAT scan machine. I pretended that the loud knocking that seemed to go on forever was the drum beat to songs that I thought of and played in my head as the machine took the data it needed to view and determine the extent of damage that had or had not been done to my neck that time. And this time, I just want to get better. I don’t want to plan another vacation or sing songs in my head along with the loud drumming of the CAT scan machine.

 

Besides my constant prayers to the Lord to “please ease this pain”, my pain relievers of choice – started out with Aspirin. After a few weeks-Tylenol. Found out today I needed to take Ibuprofen to help reduce swelling. Could not take muscle relaxants. They gave me chest pains and made me very dizzy. Tried ice packs, heat pads, and hot showers. Let’s face it. Nothing is really going to help this pain much but time. I was very hopeful that 2010 was going to be a very good year. The entire first month has been one of constant pain diverted by an occasional sprinkling of pleasure – pizza, chocolate chip ice cream, a great song, the friendly flower of a houseplant, the giggle of a grandchild, or a beautiful sunset. Thank God for distractions - and the hope that they provide.

Community Organizers Prey On Elderly

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on January 14, 2010 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Community Organizers Prey On Elderly

1/13/10

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris

 

My jobs as a Social Service Coordinator allows me to sit in on protest meetings without being the target of everyone’s wrath – which goes to management. Today, I saw first-hand how community organizers work (or let's say prey on others) to get their agenda across.

 

The whole process makes me sad, sick. For the past six months, I have worked helping 100 elderly residents in a HUD property exist, enjoy life, and get the things they need. It has been hard, grueling work. Having just one person to fill out endless benefit forms, re-determination paperwork, Homestead taxes, Food Sales taxes, Christmas food benefit applications, commodities, and all the medical paperwork that goes along with the elderly – the work has been nearly overwhelming.

 

But the thing that kept me going – until today – was the residents. As each one has entered my office for the past few months, I saw my own elderly mother. I imagined how she would struggle with many of the same issues these individuals struggle with. I hear their sadness when their children do not come for a visit. I see them struggle to make their meager income stretch to pay the heating bill and buy food.

 

The Sunflower Community Action Group (Wichita, KS) got into our HUD high rise and went door to door passing out their literature. In the first place, their flyers were more than deceitful. They were misleading. The flyers made it seem that our management was sponsoring their meeting that was held on the premises today. Some residents said that they were lead to believe this very thing. That’s wrong. Senior citizens sometimes get confused – especially with information that they are not familiar with. They are also sometimes lonely, so of course a group asking for their membership and their help appeals to them. Still others were very upset that people were in the building knocking on their doors bothering them. We are supposed to have a secure lock system. Yet these people got in. We have a no soliciting policy. One of the residents let them into the building. That resident broke the security policy. If you let someone into the building, you are responsible for their behavior.

 

Later, after the meeting ended (about two hours later), one of the aggressive leaders from the meeting came back to the building. I stopped her when she attempted to enter the building in the space left by a resident who entered the entry door. I stopped her and asked her to use the keypad phone system and be buzzed in by whomever she intended to visit if that resident invited her in. She was visibly upset. A TV camera man attempted to walk into the building in the space left by that woman. I stopped him and asked him to use the security key pad and dial whomever he intended to visit. The woman from the Sunflower group said he was with her. I told her if he was there to visit a resident, he needed to dial that resident and ask permission to enter – she could not grant permission – only the residents can do that. She became even more aggressive. She refused to shut the security door and she let the camera man into the building. I called security, but they were both already into a resident’s apartment. End of story. I am sure the rest will be on the ten o’clock news.

 

The sad thing is the news will tell the wrong story. It will be a lie. Since our company took over the property, so many positive changes have taken place. There are activities nearly every day. There are many new groups and on-site clubs. There is a wellness program, a new beautician is opening a salon on-site in two weeks. There are three food programs. There is a food bank. There are blood pressure clinics, a foot clinic where three nurses come and provide foot care. We are starting an official TOPS stie for weight loss. There is a Red Hat group, a Craft Club, Monday Night movies, a monthly birthday party, a monthly holiday party, and so much more.

 

As I dig through the piles of tax packets for the residents, the recent memory of their Christmas remains. I am currently wearing a neck collar (brace) due to a sprained neck from all the lifting in order to make sure the residents had a nice Christmas. We put up a tree in the community room. Decorations were everywhere. I applied through the Star of Hope and the Operation Holiday programs to assure the residents had gifts. I carried 75 food boxes, making five trips to the distribution site, driving back and forth to my office to get all the food on site. I made 100 goodie bags for the residents that included apples, oranges, home-made no-bake cookies, oatmeal cookies, and Christmas candy. It was just too much physically and I am paying for it now. But in most ways, it was worth it (aside from my current pain). My pain only reminds me how very sad I am over today’s events.

 

No one could have worked harder to try to improve the lives of the residents at the property where I work. To have this aggressive community action group come on site and tell half-truths is almost more than a person can take. From what I could gather, there seems to be a couple of unhappy residents for whatever reason. When they couldn’t stir up the rest of the residents, they went to this group to accomplish that goal. It is sad. But strangely, I also feel so sad for the couple of residents who fell for this group. They could work in-house and build up the site. They could use the same energy to build their community into a positive light.

 

One man told me after I cooked a “Stone Soup” (stew) lunch for everyone in the building, “You have added fellowship to our community room – thank you!” That was so sweet. It makes me happy to see others eat a good meal, fellowship, and just have a good time. I started a “BYOC” (bring your own cup) morning coffee time where the residents enjoy each others’ company as they visit in the community room. I remember when we first came last summer, no one came out and enjoyed things like that. Now it really is a true community. On another occasion, I cooked a end-of-summer picnic in late September – brrr. We had hot dogs, baked beans (my secret recipe), potato salad (made about 25 pounds worth), macaroni and cheese, jello salad, chips, and desserts. The manager and I served up everyone’s plates. They so enjoyed that event. Anyone who was still hungry had seconds. They loved the food – and it really was good if I may say so myself.

 

They have BINGO several times a month. The monthly birthday party honors all those with a birthday each month. The monthly holiday uses the theme of that month’s holiday. I decorate the community room and some of the residents help me. They really did a great job for Christmas. Now it is decorated for Valentine’s Day. The meeting today really caught me by surprise. I thought everyone was so pleased, so happy. And most are. It amazed me how just a couple of unhappy campers could stir the pot in such a radical way.

 

I feel sad for the other residents who were just getting into the grove of their community. They were all enjoying one another’s company, talking, smiling. I won’t let today’s events dampen my spirit. I won’t let that aggressive Sunflower group destroy what everyone has worked so hard to build over the past six months. It’s not fair to the residents. That is their home, their community. I truly believe that other people can tell – through their gut feeling or whatever you call it – when others care about them. I don’t get paid enough for all the detail work I do for the residents. I am exhausted and in physical pain. I do it because they are elderly and I am a Christian and this is the service that the Lord has given me to do for now.

The Forgotten

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on December 19, 2009 at 7:33 AM Comments comments (0)

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris

 

There are many – those forgotten people among us. I serve 100 elderly residents in a HUD high-rise in Wichita, Kansas. Trying to get their Christmas in place has been not only challenging, but also a heart-breaking experience.

 

The wonderful Operation Holiday program together with the Star of Hope program are great. But this has obviously been a tough year for everyone financially. Only about thirty-five of my 100 residents will be receiving a gift. I don’t know what to do.

 

Their Christmas party is Monday. Some are getting wonderful gifts. One man received a microwave and another woman will receive a sweeper. It is amazing how total strangers chose these individuals’ stars from a mall tree and purchased their requested item. But the sad side of this blessing is the two elderly persons for every one where I work who will NOT receive a gift.

 

At first, I thought how I would have to go purchase the lacking gifts. Then I realized this was beyond my budget – even if I spent $5.00 each. There was no way I could do that. I finally settled on buying everyone an apple, an orange, a candy cane, and making them home-made cookies – oatmeal and no-bake cookies. Their goodie bag will be all that I can afford – and I am really stretching things to offer even this humble gift to them.

 

Though my group present themselves as very independent and even tough – they are not. As Christmas approached this year, I noticed the loneliness in their voice as they spoke. Everyone has been a little quieter than usual and some – even a little more cranky, perhaps their defense to mask their sadness.

I attempted to get donated food for the party on Monday. No agencies were available this time of year to help out. I contacted the Kansas Food Bank and requested the drinks. I also requested popcorn and cocoa to put in each goodie bag. Their answer was no since they only assist non-profits. I have no budget – as in zero. My grant-supported position is below non-profit, yet of course it does not fit into the criteria of the food bank. I have come to realize that the people I serve are in many ways the forgotten.

 

As I look out my window at work and see a little old lady trying to maneuver her walker to get across the parking lot to her car, I see my own mother in her struggling steps. Another elderly woman stops by my office to tell me about a grown child who lives in a distant state whom she has not seen for several years. I relate to her pain, as I too have distant children whose presence is sorely missed.

 

Most of the people that I serve are African American. I am a white lady. At first, people were stand-offish towards me. But this week, everything came full circle. A woman gave me a Christmas card and a carefully wrapped small candle. It was the kind you see at the Dollar Store – two for a dollar. But I could see the love and appreciation in her carefully wrapped package. The tiny bows tied around the top of the small package obviously came off from a previous Easter wrapping. They were sweet and thoughtfully done. My first impulse was to refuse the gift and quote the case manager’s quote: “I am not allowed to accept any gifts.” But the anticipation in her eyes and the genuineness of her appreciation cause me to understand that to reject the gift would be thoughtless on my part. I would not take away the dignity of this person, one of the forgotten, who still had the capacity to give.

 

The feeling I get when I consider the forgotten individuals who I have come to know is one of having the air knocked out of me. It all seems rather hopeless. No matter how much noise one makes while serving the forgotten to try to raise awareness to their plight, the more the silent night answers back. The vast emptiness to which I submitted my requests for help serves as the bottomless pit to which I summoned help on their behalf.

 

My hope and prayer is that when we have their Christmas party on Monday, those who did not receive a gift will be happy for those who did. I so hope they enjoy their goodie bags. Although each bag is worth little more than $2.00 each, the time and effort put into them will be a huge task. After doing my first, last, and only round of Christmas shopping today, I will have to bake about 200 oatmeal cookies and 200 no-bake cookies to put into their bags. I wanted them each to know that they are not forgotten.