Witness Post: Kin do all
Running along “The Bluff” in North Portland, heading toward the University of Portland, the vista to the left showed an expansive view of the industrial flatlands of the city. The Bluff overlooks the physical labor sections of town, with its ship yards, derricks and containers, truck fleets and buildings. The flatlands are bisected by the meandering Willamette River. To the right were manicured lawns and raked leaves of the residents along Willamette Avenue. We crossed a T -section in the roadway and came upon a sign which was missing some letters. The sign read: “Kin do all.” The spacing of the letters was off, so it was clear that someone had vandalized a few of the consonants. Since the wording at the base of the sign read, Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was easy enough to see that the missing letters were “g-m-H”; a welcome to the JW’s Kingdom Hall. Perhaps the sign vandals were inadvertently trying to create a metaphor for life. I couldn’t help but think about my KIN and ALL of the myriad of things that they DO to help with life’s worries.
My kin have all been caregivers; however, my sister Millie has been our family “mother” for a long time. Even before our birth mother died, Millie was the responsible one among the kids doing her chores, cooking, writing, calling and the like. She does it ALL.
As a practicing neurologist in New Hampshire, she was also our go-to person on most questions medical. When our father had congestive heart failure, we called Millie. When his wife was going through a minor stroke, we called Millie. For those annoying everyday hurts, my dad called Millie. She proved to the best contact person for our father when he was shuffling back and forth among his home, the hospital and managed care facilities in Florida. They talked daily as my dad tried to navigate the medical care system.
Dad did not want to be a burden on his children, who are leading our own lives in places across the country. His many years as caregiver to his parents, who both died of Alzheimer’s disease, were harrowing; so harrowing that he wanted to live far away from his children, so as not to worry them if his health failed. Moving to Sarasota, Florida, seemed to him a good alternative. Quite to the contrary, his choice to live many miles away from the rest of the family backfired. In the last few years it was a pain-in-the-ass and pocketbook, as we flew many miles to be with him in his times of need.
Millie helped rally the calls, letters, text messages and e-mail chain to bridge our conversations about Dad’s health, oxygen tanks, advanced directives, living wills, powers of attorney and the like. She always approached her task with a servant’s heart. We all wanted to be ready when the health challenges arose.
Millie was selected as the Doctor most picked by New Hampshire Doctors to help family members with neurological challengers. She is the one the docs would send their loved ones in a pinch. Dr. Millie has been the top rated professional for many years running. (See link below)
When “That Time” finally came for Dad to die, it was Millie who had the last conversation with him. He died of pneumonia at the age of 91. He wanted to go in the end…asleep and never waking up. His last words to Millie as she headed to the airport were: “Drive safely, Mil. I love you. God bless.” He died about six hours later, just as Millie arrived back in Concord.
Millie returned to Florida the next week for final arrangements and a celebration of life gathering for Dad. Most of the Hooper siblings made it there, though a few had schedules too tight to make the trip.
Have Faith Will Travel
The Kingdom may not be of this earth, but then again it just might be. No matter your religion or faith tradition, having belief in a higher power is one thing that separates us from other animals on the planet. It is faith that holds us tight, when everything seems to be falling apart. It is faith that allows some to charge into battle, while other shrink in fear. With family members practicing Buddhism, Judaism, Presbyterianism, Catholicism and lots of other ism’s, it matters little which ism they chose, as long as it is grounded in faith. That belief system keeps us going and energized for the next faith challenge.
Judge Rutherford of Jehovah’s Witnesses
See Dr. Mildred Hooper LaFontaine on Vitals.com for a quick overview of her credentials. To us she is no ordinary miracle worker, she is extraordinary: