Sunday, April 8, 2012
SALUTE A VET
This is my Uncle, William Gaines, he turned 88 just 9 days ago!
It was the day before his birthday that we moved him into the Veterans Home for Soldiers and Sailors at Quincy, Illinois. What an experience!
He's lived in his hometown of Concord, Illinois nearly all his life. We're guessing that's he's been in that house, minus a couple of years in Europe fighting evil, driving a tank in the Battle of the Bulge, for the past 70 years at least. (I can't imagine being in one place that long. I can't imagine fighting in a war for 2 years either!)
That house was also my home for my first 20 years of life and he was an important person in the family unit. He was the breadwinner, our chauffer at times, & our companion to the movies and ballgames. He was (and is) a sweet gentle soul. He never married and worked very hard all his life.
He cared for my sister and I when we were small and for his parents when they were elderly.
We are his family.
He'd been doing pretty well in his little block house in that small town for a long time. The past 10 years have been shared with caretakers, nearly around the clock. They came in shifts, helped him dress, eat, shuffle around on his walker, do light cleaning and most importantly, watch the Cardinals Baseball games with him. That all changed Jan 8, 2012 when he fell out of bed and broke his right femur.
Surgery followed and two or three near death experiences before he was admitted to transitional care at the hospital and then the nursing home across the street. Then the big moving day arrived.
I'm not sure he knew exactly what was happening, as he repeatedly asked me, "Where am I going?" He was a little confused but excited and enjoyed the 2 hour road trip. He'd not been out and about to enjoy the scenery for a long time.
Once we cleared admissions and rolled him into the Fifer Unit there on that beautiful campus, all hint of anxiety disappeared. We were met by a welcoming committee of 5-6 nurses, a social worker, an activity director and several of his "new WWII combat neighbors" wheeling by to take a look at the incoming ex-Army WWII private. The Dr. arrived 5 minutes later and completely won our hearts with his compassion and efficiency. Dr. Dave is a geriatric specialist and had things movin' and shakin' immediately. The beehive of activity was extremely impressive.
My sister and I stayed in the guest house for two days, visiting him in his new state-of-the-art home checking on things like cleanliness, friendliness and quality of food. It was all GOOD!
(We had a back-up plan formulated in case it did NOT meet our approval!)
We met a few of the residents, watched them motivate down the halls, listened to them tease each other and started calling them by name. The nurses and technicians got to know us and realized that they would be seeing us often.
(We decided that we were going to try to ENLIST in the Army so that our golden days might be lived out there, too!!)
We are SO thankful for the very caring, extremely trained and patient staff. They treat those elderly soldiers with such respect that they almost salute when one comes rolling by.
Salute! That's a great word. I salute my uncle, and thank him, and love him. I salute those 493 other vets that now live in that small world of the Veterans Home. They are precious adult babies now but at one time were the strong courageous warriors that saved the world from horrific evil.
They are NOT forgotten and they ARE great appreciated. At least this one is!!
I got a report this morning that he's doing just fine. His new meds are kickin' in, his new place is starting to feel like home and his new friends are his entertainment! We're hoping that the therapy he is receiving will strengthen his leg so he can walk again. Until it does he's happy watching the Cardinals Baseball games, sporting his new Cardinal-signed ball cap! (Theres an ongoing rivalry amongst the vets between the fans of the Cards vs the fans of the Cubs.)
He's content and we are thrilled. This whole transition could not have gone better. His new home is fine.
If you're ever in Quincy, Illinois, do YOURSELF a favor and stop by and salute a vet. You'll come away amazed at the gratitude that fills your heart!