I’ve been MIA for a few days. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were scheduled with back-to-back errands. Saturday afternoon ended with a visit to a home improvement exhibition at a nearby conference center where we met up with my sister Cindy and my brother-in-law Greg.
Greg has been battling what started out as lung cancer for three years now this past November. Chemo, radiation, and an experimental drug have left his body free of the cancer, but not so his brain. And as we’ve had to stand by and watch, he’s gotten weaker and weaker until he has very little strength in his legs or his arms. Greg was always one of those guy’s guys. Could fix anything, build anything, plus he worked in an important position at Hill AFB. It’s been extremely difficult, therefore, to watch his decline.
What’s been more difficult, however, is watching my sister having to keep him mobile. Cindy is so bloomin’ amazing. This 5’2″ woman may be short of stature, but she has a very TALL heart! She reminds you of a hobbit! And Greg has a good seven inches on her. So it’s nothing short of astounding to watch her getting him in and out of his wheelchair and around their house. But the most difficult thing for her is transferring Greg in and out of a car. He simply can’t help. Fortunately, neighbors and folks from church have been great to help.
We’ve been with Cindy a few times and helped her struggle to get Greg up and down the 16 stairs at their home (though now they have moved him down to the lower floor which has been a big relief). To say it’s an overwhelming feat doesn’t come close to it. Greg is basically 240 lbs. of dead weight. Cindy and Drollery can barely handle him between them. And I’m no help at all. I struggle with my own back issues and am not allowed to lift.
At the home show Saturday Cindy was able to get Greg out of the car and into his transport chair ok without any help. But getting him back into the car was a nightmare. When she tried to get him on the seat he bent his knees instead of at the waist and slipped off the seat, ending up on the narrow car frame. As she and Drollery were trying to hold him up so he wouldn’t slip clear to the ground, he had a seizure. He was just gone. He collapsed. Cindy kept slapping his face and he finally came round again. They got him back up in his feet and I manually moved his legs while they were trying to get him to back up and then bend at the waist and just sit back.
People were walking by and no one offered to help. They just looked away. I found it extremely distressing. Only God knows what must go through Greg’s mind at these times. And though Cindy and Greg’s STRUGGLE wasn’t new to me, the sheer public exposure of it there in that parking lot staggered me. Or as I told Plato later that evening, I think it traumatized me. It made me feel stripped raw and naked. And that, in turn, made me feel like an whiny butt-head when I thought about all the times Cindy has gone through this without ANY help. I admire that woman more than I can say.
Vulnerability? I realized this weekend that for me, being unable to help when I’m needed makes me feel really powerless and vulnerable. And I would never have thought of that before Saturday. I can honestly say it shook me to my core and taught me a lot about my OWN limitations and vulnerabilities.