It was a shock to learn (when I went to play bridge with Lorraine) on December 20, 2012 that she’d fallen and broken her hip December 18th. I visited her in the hospital. I learned on December 27th that she’d been released for rehab to a convalescent home within walking distance of my house. (Pictures from Lorraine’s 100th birthday party- bridge game are on my personal blog at:
http://bit.ly/VPJ5Bn - the first picture is of the two of us together.)
Today – Lorraine is being released and going home. I hope that things will work out there. It won’t be easy for her or her son who takes care of her.
Since December 27th, I’ve missed visiting her only on New Year’s Day and a day I was out-of-town on.
My experiences are an example of what I think we as men need to begin doing to help build a “new masculinity”.
Prior to December 27, 2012 I knew relatively little of Lorraine (beyond some biographical life facts). She is an amazing person! Her bridge playing was excellent, far better than mine, until it began slipping on occasion when she was 98. More importantly she was a caring person, much beloved by many. I played bridge with her every Thursday and about every other Thursday gave her a ride home.
Visiting Lorraine every day has helped me grow in various ways. I’m learning to listen to my feelings . They go all over the place. There were days when she barely recognized me. Sometimes I thought that she had no future at all. At other times I saw her huge successes in therapy or just enjoyed stories she told me.
Increasingly I’ve learned to be there however I can. I’ve witnessed Lorraine “aging” becoming “old” in various ways. She has trouble hearing as well as often taking in the meanings of what is said to her. Her forgetfulness is growing. She toldl me that yesterday she’d seen someone, when I’d been there 4-5 days earlier during the visit. She’ll repeat herself 3-4 times over 15 minutes.
Holding her hand and just sitting in silence together are significant to me. I am sad to see my friend age before my eyes. I am happy that I’ve been able to support her as best I can each day.
As a man I learned to look out for myself and to take care of myself. I did not learn to reach beyond the simple courtesies. I did not learn to confront my own fears of death and dying with others. I did not learn to be a significant part of others who weren’t already close friends of mine.
Lorraine has given me a huge gift. I’ve given her a gift helping her cope with the negatives of the past 45+ days and being her supportive buddy when I can.
I hope in the coming years as men we will increasingly learn to stretch our boundaries and to reach out to really be with others beyond our comfort zones. It is well worth it, though not easy. Thanks!