Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Belated Veteran's Day (Remembrance Day) Tale

   A cup of coffee, a chortling fire.....and Thou; my lovely and ever so patient friends and readers. 

   It has been, as I'm sure you can tell, a bit difficult for me to get back in the 'swing' of things here on the blog after having been (mostly) away from it the last couple of months. I've also had a very unexpected, albeit welcome, upsurge in energy and stamina of late which has meant I've been doing things like working on raised beds, toting logs, cutting up wood for the fireplace...nothing like a fire on a chilly evening!....baking, cleaning, and so on. Me toting logs? I never thought I'd be able to do that again, so yay! To the many thoughtful people who've cautioned me not to overdo things: I'm doing my best to be careful, but I'm really enjoying being able to do these things. I'm also sleeping better than I have in ages; go figure!

   But on to my tale: This happened to the Great Scot and I on Friday and is especially appropriate since Monday was Veteran's Day. (Remembrance Day for those in the UK.)

                                                                      photo credit 
   Thursday night 3M worked as usual and Friday morning I had an appointment to meet with the new neurologist, whose office was a bit over an hour from here. We had a quick bite after my dearling showered and changed clothes and off we went. It was a pleasant 'getting to know' you office visit which lasted about 45 minutes and then we were heading home again after a couple of quick side trips to run errands. Needless to say, the Great Scot was exhausted and more than ready for a good sleep, but we decided at the last minute to stop by the ATM so we wouldn't have to get up and do it later; after that chore was done 3M decided to drive the rest of the way home on Wabash Ave. (what Interstate 40 is called as it wends it's way through Terre Haute) rather than take the usual side street....

   We noticed the sidewalks along Wabash were inaccessible because of road work being done, and as we drove further on saw vehicles dodging around something in the right lane but not slowing down.

   Drawing abreast of the ubiquitous McDonald's, 3M and I were horrified to see a wizened wee black man with one of those rolling walkers with the seat struggling with his walker and a large red suitcase on the very busy Wabash Avenue. He couldn't reach the sidewalk, it was blocked off, and he was having to take a step with his walker then lift his suitcase...and had to sit on his walker every few steps because the effort was obviously exhausting him. No one stopped to help him, or even slowed down. I was shocked ....angry ....petrified he would be hit at any moment and the Great Scot? My sweetheart whipped the car into a side street and pulled around to park in front of a pizza joint, looked at me and said "Well, what do we do?" I admit that I laughed a little bit then I told this sweet person I was smart enough to marry "You already know what we're going to do, so go on and get him." 

   Get him 3M did; went out on the busy street, picked up the man's suitcase and helped him get to the car. I'd gotten out by then and helped him into the front seat while the Great Scot piled his belongings in the car.

   To make a long story short: The gentleman, who I'll call Mr. S to preserve his privacy, told us that he was nearly 90 years old and a black veteran of WW II. He had served in the Navy and was present at both Utah Beach and Omaha Beach...and had been severely injured during the war. He'd been making his way to the Veteran's Hospital in Danville, IL and had somehow mistakenly gotten off at the wrong stop. We spent several hours that afternoon with this lovely,  humourous and intelligent man trying to help him; taking him to eat, buying him a bus ticket to Danville, trying to help him find a place to stay the night since the bus didn't leave until the next morning. We don't currently have an appropriate sleeping situation for someone in his physical condition or we would have brought him home with us. (I didn't think a couch would be comfortable or safe for him, and he couldn't make his way up the stairs to the bedroom.)

   Unfortunately, as the day wore on, I noticed the previously cheery and mentally 'present' gentleman was growing more and more confused and agitated. He was becoming paranoid, and asked several times what we wanted from him and started guarding behaviours with his possessions. If you aren't familiar with Alzheimer's or dementia, these are classic indications of what is known as Sundowner's Syndrome or 'sundowning'. In the end we had to allow someone else to help him, someone with whom he was more comfortable, and will probably never know if he made it safely to the VA hospital but I comfort myself with the knowledge that we truly did the best we could for this man who had given so much for his country.

   Why am I writing this? It's not to pat ourselves on the back; it is because I am appalled that this veteran, who fought and nearly died for our country, found himself...literally....on the street, in an extremely dangerous situation, with no one else to help him and I can't help but ask myself why. Why did people ignore his plight; not even slow down? Perhaps this hits closer to home for us because my Dad would have been near his age and was also a veteran who served in Germany. Mayhap it touched me because my oldest brother is also a Navy man, having retired from the Navy. In any case...

   Perhaps this will in some small way serve as a thank you to Mr. S, and all veterans, who receive too little thanks for all you have done, and do, for us.

For Carolyn: The recipe for bean and dumpling soup (a Depression-era recipe) will go up later this week. 



  1. Oh Jacqueline I am sitting here crying the compassion you and your husband show is the most beautiful thin I have ever seen and I am so overwhelmed with emotion I am honoured to know you even if it is virtually this man needed you and you did what you could. I understand sundowning and it breaks my heart that he cannot find the help he needs, He truly deserves better by a country that he served. Thank you so much for trying.
    I am so happy you are doing well. Take care HUGS xo B

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. In this day and age many people don't want to get involved for various reasons - one of them probably being slapped with a lawsuit or something. I would like to think I would have at least helped the man out of harm's way and found another kind soul to get him to his destination. But you went the extra mile (which I'm not surprised btw). God bless your sweet souls. I'm glad the situation turned out okay for all involved. Reading this was very impactful. Good to hear from you and glad that you're feeling good again! Sometimes a blog break can do a world of wonders, but I hope yours isn't permanent. Take care...

  3. Jacqueline this was one of the most touching things I've ever read in my life. I am sitting here speechless. I want to sent this to my uncle, who is a veteran, if I may.

  4. What a touching story.

    I am so happy to hear that the reason you've been amiss is that you're feeling well, and working on projects. :-)

  5. Wow, how nice you are at your bar, great thing to do and glad you are up and zipping around your zoo

  6. What a wonderful story! How many people are afraid to even just do 'the right thing' anymore. Bless you for doing what was right. I am very familiar with 'sundowners,' because my mom had Alzheimers. It is such a sad condition.

    Thank you for stopping in at Cranberry Morning, Jacqueline. I would have emailed you personally, but you come up as a 'no reply blogger.'

  7. I'd have gone back and helped too, how ridiculous that people didn't think it was important enough to stop and help. Big kudos to you and your husband for making that effort. I bet you made his day too, stopping to help.

    Dementia is an awful thing, I've seen a touch of it in my grandmother-in-law and wouldn't wish it on anyone. :(

  8. Very touching story! Can't help wondering if this man normally has help and supervision. If he DOES have someone that helps him, why on earth would they let him get out on his own???

  9. Oh my goodness, what a touching story. I am so glad that you guys stopped to help him out. I can't imagine him being out there all by himself on the busy road. Bless you for being so kind to help him out. So heart wrenching!

    PS - I'm so happy to hear you've been feeling better with lots of energy and good nights of sleep. Hooray! :)

  10. This is an important story to share. Your husband is very special, methinks, to have stopped and helped.

  11. So sad that he was wandering alone. My prayers that he made it back to where needed to be safely.
    I am very glad to see you posting, but happier to know that you're feeling better and much more energetic. Keeping toting wood!

  12. oh my, how awful ... it does amaze me how we all get so wrapped up in our own worlds that we forget to slow down, look around and just be human to one another. Good for you and 3M! clearly life altering help for this man

  13. Think you have just topped any story I have about picking up ducklings on a busy road. AW.. big thank you for helping, NO, people do not stop. .. they are too busy with their own lives. How proud of you we are...

    Hope your appointment went well, word of warning... Neurologist, always have too much to say for themselves... :-)
    Hope it went well though, and again, big thank you...... xxxxxxxxxx we don't know this guy either, but in truth, it could be any one of us.............. lots of love :-) xxx

  14. It's very sad that people can drive right by a sight like that and not blink an eye. They should be ashamed of themselves!


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