I just want to warn you that this post does not have to do with foster care or adoption. It also is not about the horrible events that have been going on in Haiti. While adoption and foster care have been at the forefront for me over the past 2 years, tonight there is something else on my mind, so please indulge me.
When I was around 8 years old I went on a hike with my 3 best friends at the time. We had been growing up together and the 4 of us were inseperable. 2 were brothers. The thirda one and I lived next door to each other. The hike was not unlike the one undertaken in the movie "Stand By Me" although it didn't last overnight. As a matter of fact it lasted for just a few hours but it was our first real trip away from our little block of suburbia that was home.
We climbed the hill behind the brother's house and went into the woods there. When we got to the next street, we climbed another hill and just kept going into the woods. We ended up in an area that was totally unfamiliar to us. It was another world. It was a new civilization. We had gone back in time and seen places where "indians" (I know that term may not be politically correct, but in 1963 it was where we were) lived and walked through civil war battlefields. (by the way, there was not a civil war battle within 1000 miles of where we lived). In our minds we had "Seen the world". In Truth...
We were never more than a mile or so from our homes, but it was an important mile for us and especially for the two brothers. They were never allowed to go very far from home, but on this occasion their parents were away and they had a babysitter who let them do things that they normally wouldn't have been allowed to do.
The story of that hike could be a book, but I tell you that just to give you an idea of how important we were to each other. As is common as we grew up we went our seperate ways. The odler brother went into the Coast Guard and didn't return home for 30 years. The younger brother got as far away form his parents as possible and never looked back. I went into the Army, then got married and had a wonderful family. The kid next door had some difficult times and might not be with us today if not for AA.
The older brother was the "leader" of our little pack. He was the oldest, although all of us were within 2 years of age of each other.
My friend from next door and I "found" each other about 8 months ago. We have seen each other a few times and have had dinner together and enjoyed reminiscing. Today for the first time three of us were together. We went to see the older brother in the nursing home he is in. I hadn't seen him for almost 40 years. He had a major heart problem and suffered from events that would have killed most people. He survived, but is not well. He suffered severe brain damage and is unable to speak or acknowledge anything. He can not eat and has been on a feeding tube for the last 2 years. He has a wonderful woman for a wife who is constantly by his side.
While you are never sure what he is thinking or even if he is thinking, he appears to be somewhat aware of his surroundings. We were all telling stories about life growing up and he would start to move his mouth as if he was trying to tell his side of the story and put his own two cents in. We talked about that day we went hiking and he had a change of expression as if he remembered it. He probably didn't, but it is nice to think that maybe he did.
At one point when we were talking about the old street there was a tear running down his cheek.
It was very difficult seeing him like that and while it is unlikely that he will ever be able to speak with us again we agreed we would go visit him together again. When it was time to leave, his wife took a picture of the three of us together. I have to get a copy of that picture.
I was worried about this visit for a while, but knew I had to do it. I am so glad I did. As I said, he was the leader of the pack. He was the strong one. If the earthquake in Haiti hasn't been enough of a reminder, he certainly is a reminder of how fragile life is; how important it is to enjoy what we have for as long as we can; and how important it is that we never forget those who are close to us.
Thank you for your indulgence. My next post wil be about our visit with our licensing worker and case worker this week.