MARY T. ROGERS... Hospice Volunteer
I met Mary as she was getting off her shift as a volunteer at St. Francis West Hospice. She looked Filipino so I played Da Hil Saiyo and followed with Ikaw, 2 very popular Filipino numbers. That got her attention and she decided to stop for a minute. She even bragged that most medical workers today are Filipino so I would be popular with the staff if I played more Filipino music.
I like being popular so I played Maala Ala Mokaya to see if staff members would come out and swoon over me. No such luck. So I took a short break to chat with Mary.
Mary has been volunteering with St. Francis for almost 35 years. She assists patients with whatever they need to have done for them as well as feed them at mealtime. A big part of her job is to keep them company as they face their final days on earth. She makes sure that they are treated with dignity at all times.
Mary grew up in the Kalihi-Palama area as I did. She's currently a Makakilo resident and also plays the ukulele in her spare time.
Mary had always wanted to volunteer and asked around but no one knew how or what she needed to do to get started. Then, in the late 70s, she talked to a priest at a church function who referred her to St. Francis Hospital who had a hospice program that needed volunteers. She jumped at the opportunity. After going through 6 weeks of training, she has been volunteering ever since. St. Francis has since sold their hospital operation and now operate two hospice physical plants, but most of their work is with home services for end-of-life care for patients and families.
Veteran volunteers like Mary know how important a patient's dignity is. The following is something an old man wrote as he awaited death in a hospital. It was found by the nurses among his belongings after his passing and has been circulated on the internet among healthcare providers since.
Crabby Old Man
What do you see nurses? . . .. .. . What do you see?
What are you thinking . . . . . when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man . . .. . . not very wise,
Uncertain of habit . . . . . with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food . . . . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . . . . . 'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . .. . . . the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . . . lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . . . The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? . . . . . Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse . . . . . you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am. . . . .. . As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, . . . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . . . . . with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters . . . . . who love one another.
A young boy of Sixteen . . . . with wings on his feet.
Dreaming that soon now . .. . . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . . . my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows . . . . . that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . . I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . . . .. . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . . . . With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons . . .. . . have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside me . . . . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . .. . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . . my wife is now dead.
I look at the future . . . . . shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing . . . . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . . . and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . ... . . . and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles . . . . . grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone . . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . . . . . a young guy still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys . . . . . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . . .. . gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people . . . . . open and see.
Not a crabby old man .. . . Look closer . . . see ME!!
People like Mary don't realize how she has made our community a better one through her volunteer work, but the patients and families she has worked with surely know how she has helped them with her end-of life care.