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The last of my Musar (moral thoughts) for this week, is now continued. I feel like a good rabbi sharing these thoughts and telling you how bad you are. And it is all geared at other people. I don't like to look at myself when I'm giving Musar. I like to blame others for the issues. It's easier to rebuke that way.
These people that aren't by their loved ones, have no idea what I'm talking about. 'Why is he complaining?' Because you have no idea what I'm talking about. If people got it, I wouldn't feel this need to go off on this not visiting thing. If they understood how important it is to ensure that the station is changed off Delilah every once in a while, I wouldn't have to share these thoughts on how you have to be at the 'home.'
My thought: It's always the people that are the reason for the complaint that have a problem with it. 'Ugh. Why does she think we are self-centered snobs?' Because you are. I hope I helped I somebody with that thought.
You Can Only Know How Bad It Is If You're There
You'll have shifts where care is not done. It happens. You'll see the staff there, not coming to the room. Cleaning, meds, no idea if they are done. Have of the cleaning supplies are not in the room. They're focused on their phones. A line of six of them on their phones, like teenagers at dinner. The roller chairs lined up at the nursing station waiting to see if any friends need their help.
Good and bad happens. You have to know the shifts. The only way to know the shifts is to know the people. To be there. To be the annoying one they all hate, because you noted to them that it might be the right thing to cut the resident's fingernails every once in a while. Then you see the aides on their phones, taking bets on whose fingernails will grow the longest over four months. FIguring out the over under on room Fran.
I've noticed so much just being there. If I wasn't sitting here right now, I wouldn't understand how loud the air-compressor is. If I didn't spend three hours here straight, I wouldn't know how much your head can hurt from the sound of a lawnmower running for three hours right near my face. If I wasn't here right now, I wouldn't notice all the people that would be so happy if their family cared enough to visit. That's sentimental stuff right there.
I wouldn't see all the people that are wondering if their children are alive. I wouldn't notice the residents spacing out and staring at the stucco.
You don't know how bad the music in the room is, if you're not there. The aides are picking some of their favorites. There is only so much '80s soft rock one can listen to. If I wasn't here right now, I wouldn't know about the beep going off the last forty-five minutes. I wouldn't know how much Hallmark was being played.
If you cared, you would be by them, reading to them, helping them move, maybe even watching something other than a love story about a divorced woman, sharing family time with the kids. A break from Hallmark with their child isn't the worst thing to have every day. You would ensure the 45 degree position that the untrained aide forgot to leave dad in.
If you cared, you would've known about the Salsa fiasco. Somehow, Salsa is somebody's tradition, so it has to be played twenty-four hours a day, when the messed up aide is there. Spanish music mix isn't the tradition. Constant Salsa, when sleeping, and bothering your neighbors is the tradition for this aide.
At the very least, pop-ins. You have to be there every day to ensure decent care in most of these institutions they call homes. For the unloving child, pop-ins have a place.
I said 'every day.' That's too much. I am sorry for suggesting that your parents should be part of your life. It's much easier to not have to worry if you're not there. Let's leave it at visiting once a week for a few minutes. A pop-in. Pop-ins are exciting. You show up and see them hanging off the side of the bed, say 'hi' and head out.
Pop-ins are perfect for ensuring that the care is not getting done. You pop-in and check to make sure the place isn't clean, and head out. You let dad know you're doing well and you are just checking to make sure the experience of hell is right for dad. It's a different way of showing you care. It's like abandonment with care.
Sometimes Stuff Doesn't Get Done When You're Not There
Some staff is like, 'What are they going to do? Tell on us? So we skip today's treatment. They're old, nobody will know. Let's see whose nails grow longer. Focus on the nails.' One of the fun games with the fingernails is to see how long they get before a family member complains. I've seen people with four inches on the nails. Unpolished nails. I once heard a nurse say, they haven't visited in three inches.
Sometimes it's a weekend and there is no staff. The place can't find somebody to man the unit, so they have a free day to see who survives.
If You Are Not There, You're Not There
That is profound. I try to share novel ideas that strike one's mind. Don't give me the, 'I pray and I feel like I am there.' I am not mocking prayer here. Pray and connect with the spiritual. But don't think for a second that your parents wouldn't appreciate your prayers more, if you were there, praying with them.
Prayers for people are great, but you can't tell your parents you're praying for them. That doesn't bring Chizuk (strength). You can't tell dad, 'I'm praying for you.' Now your dad is asking: 'Did I sin?' 'Did my daughter convert?' 'Am I going to hell?' The only way you can tell somebody you're praying for them is if you're telling them, 'I am praying for you, because you are about to die.' You have to add on how sick they are, so they don't think you are deeming them a sinner. On the other hand, it might be hard to tell somebody you're praying for them, and then to list all their diseases to them. Maybe you should first ask them if they want the list. Advice: Before you let somebody know you're praying for them, first make sure it's clear to them how bad their life is.
If you're not there, you can't tell the doctors to stop talking about your loved one as a study of illness. You can tell the doctor that the person they are talking about is right there. You can tell them, 'Though they can't talk, they still have a soul, that I am praying for.' You can tell them to not dissect the corpse they are talking about.
You Can't See How Great the Staff Is
If you're not there, you can't see the amazing care that the nurses and aides are doing for your parents. You can't be there to thank the staff for the love they show your parents. You can thank them for the excellent care. There is a lot of excellent care. I just like to focus on the negative when I'm rebuking the world.
When I rebuke, I rebuke. You think the old Jewish people are not trying to figure out why their children turned into nonJewish kind people who look different? When they see these kind aides and nurses, they start to think these are their kids. They like to think their children are good people that would visit. That's what senile is. Senile is the hope that your kid is one of the aides who cares about you. Obviously, any sensical human being would know their kids don't care. And then, 'Why the hell is my kid changing me right now?' It is all confusing. 'Where the hell did my house go?' Senile.
Nobody wants to go to a Musar Shmuz (a speech on moral improvement) to hear how great they are. No decent Jew would walk out of a speech like that feeling good.
I understand that there are other factors involved in life. Like somebody may need open heart surgery in a different state, so they can't visit mom and dad right now. I also respect Tehillim and prayers very much. It is appreciated and it helps the soul and our connection with God. So, as long as praying isn't your alibi for not visiting, you might not be a jerk.
Prayer is great. Visiting is great. They’re the right thing to do. Nothing is better than a person you don't want to see for very long, visiting you. Visiting and prayer is great for community, and extended family. Whatever extended family means, depends on how much you like the relative. If you can’t stand them, they’re extended family. You want extended family to do pop-ins.
When you're a sibling, a child, a parent, a spouse, the closest family member they have, prayer is not enough. Visiting is not enough. You have to be there.
Be there. Join in the experience of seeing people's tushes. Share in hell. Play Bingo. It's not that bad. You can even pray in hell. You can bring the grandchildren to join in the experience of hell. You can have great family time in hell.
I think there are enough reasons to be there. If it's too much for you to get out of the house to visit, bring them back to your house. Get a reclining bed, set it at 45 degrees and make sure the TV is set to Hallmark. Maybe dad will also get to see his grand-kids passing through. Grand-kids pass through. You see them on the way to stuff. Grandchildren don't do pop-ins. Just pop-byes. More like hop-byes. Grand-kids like to hop. If they have a friend over, they might do a hop-in.
And no complaining about the gown. If it's fine for them to walk around their home with the tush showing, it's fine to walk around your home like that too.
Now that I got that off my chest, I love the recliner beds. I'm going to try to get on one of those, pop on some Hallmark, and drink some ginger ale with crushed ice. Can't wait till Bingo this afternoon. We're hitting that.
Somebody had to look like an angry person on behalf of others. If you don't start visiting more, I'll write another one of these sermons of anger.
***For a Refuah Sheleyma for חיה נחה בת ריבה לאה and all who need a speedy recovery, and shared laughter with their family and friends.
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Health and Healing
Humor, laughter and a positive outlook in the hard times. This includes Torah thoughts by Rabbi Kilimnick and humor from within.
With nursing facilities closed, this guy is trying to figure out why his kids are trying to break into the room, scoping it out. He's asking when his kids turned into a bunch of stalkers.
(Photo: The Guardian)