Driving Mr. Joey

Joey is a censor of radio, music or other amusements in our cars.

“I want it quiet” is his way of saying, “Turn that @^@# off.” (Not down, OFF.) We meekly comply lest his agitation mount. About our best resistance is, “How do you ask?” And then he’ll add the required “Please.” So we still turn off whatever was breaking up the monotony of driving around on the daily errands, of which picking up Joey is one.

We’ve had a couple of successful push back moments, though.

adeleTim got Melissa Adele’s 21 last Christmas, in one of those weak middle aged efforts to seem cool. Melissa likes it, and on one of her pick-up-Joey runs, she was really liking it and was not into “I want it quiet,” even with “please” tacked on.

So she just kept it playing and then started tapping the percussion of Rumour Has It on the dashboard. Lo and behold, Joey started smiling and tapping it with his less emphatic, I-hate-fine-motor-work, elegant fingers. He was in rhythm, no less.

bunker hillTim just finished an 11 disc recording of Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick. He says it is great but is officially restrained from commenting as he spouts too many spoilers. But that aside, for the couple of weeks it took to get through 11 CDs driving short hops around town, Joey never once said, “I want it quiet.”

Maybe it was the vocal tone or pace of the reader, Chris Sorensen. Maybe it was the lack of music (Joey can be a music snob) or the absence of back and forth chatter from radio personalities. Whatever it was, Tim enjoyed listening to an enthralling history instead of repetitive quotes from old Disney movies.

Ours are the hands

“Tim, can you come help us?”

A lady at church, possibly in early manifestations of Parkinson’s Disease, took a fall in the kitchen downstairs. Folks from the early service had cleared out, and I was the (relatively) strong back and (absolutely) weak mind sought out to provide a lift.

Thankfully she wasn’t hurt, but she wasn’t able to get up from the floor to use her walker. I was able to get my arms under hers, squat with good form and, on the count of three, lift her upright.

I went with her in the elevator up to the main floor, to accompany her out to her family’s car. The later service’s music leader was in the church practicing, and as I walked the lady toward the door, he was playing “How Firm a Foundation,” which includes the words,

I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

The lady was tearing up and asking me to pray for her, and I leaned my head close to hers and told her that the music she was hearing went with those lyrics. I told her that I would be using them to pray for her, asking God to “hold her up.” Now my eyes were getting misty as we labored through the door, out to the parking lot.

I was her care giver for just a few moments this morning. I wasn’t in the best mood as I was trying to shake off a sleepless night, courtesy of the autistic son for whom Melissa and I are into two decades of care giving. Yet the opportunity at church, with musical accompaniment, no less, touched me as a great honor.

Care givers become the “hands of God.” Miracles would be great, but for whatever reason hidden in the divine plan, we are the principal means by which God “strengthens, helps and holds up” those in our care.

As St. Teresa of Avila wrote in 14th century Spain,

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

“Sick and Tired”

“Sick and Tired” is a great little book by Kimberly Rae. She’s a chronically ill lady and she shares “Empathy, Encouragement, and Practical Help” for those in the same boat. (The “click to look inside” isn’t operative in the picture here – click on the link above and you can check it out more at Amazon).

sick and tiredEach chapter is a short reflection on some aspect of living with chronic illness.

She writes with great wit. It is a funny read, even though the subject matter doesn’t sound like fun. She’s surprisingly understanding and non-snarky about the less-than-helpful stuff well intentioned people do or say to those in need of on-going care.

As a care giver, I found the book immensely helpful. It gives insight into what those in my care might be thinking, feeling and needing. Her opening chapter, on a long and largely fruitless effort to get a diagnosis for her condition, reminds me that as much as I feel confined by the care giving role, those I care for are trapped by all kinds of stuff that they don’t want, can’t control and in some cases can’t even understand.

I can’t recommend this book enough, both for its intended audience among the chronically ill, and for those who are their care givers.