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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

Nov. 26, 2003


Sixty two years ago my parents celebrated Thanksgiving by getting married. They had met a few years before and finally took the plunge. Last week I spent time sorting through pictures of them from that day, and the years that followed. I never thought of my parents from the perspective they presented in those old photo albums. My Mom was tall compared to the other women in her group, and had a model's way of looking into the camera. Not many of us ever think of our parents as being attractive young people with the same dreams and ambitions that we had while young. But as I studied those pictures, I saw a real fun loving couple who had a great time living their young lives in the face of the Great Depression and WWII.

Looking through picture albums and sorting through family momentos is a nice way to spend your time. It's a little tougher when your Mom is in rough shape and has been moved to a nursing home. It becomes worse when you get an unexpected bad diagnosis from her doctors. Suddenly, that trip down memory lane is a product of sorting through a loved one's lifetime possessions as you close out her apartment.

The Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania is as nice a facility as you could ever hope to offer a family member. From the social workers, Mary Alice, Theresa, and Ellen, to the nurses and aides, and the young volunteers from the University of Scranton, everyone works hard to provide compassionate care to families and patients alike. They made a tough time a lot easier for a scared 90 year old woman and her family.

Nursing homes seem to receive more than their share of bad publicity, and I am sure some of it is warranted. But, I can tell you that there may not be a tougher job in the world. I spent seven days on the floor and around the building. Not once did I see anything but patience, love, and understanding. There were many occasions where I was amazed at how well the staff handled residents who had lost much in the way of decorum as well as their physical or mental losses. If you spend some time in that setting, you have a real chance at developing a different way of looking at things.

We flew Mom to Boca on Sunday and got her settled in a room at a facility just at the end of my street. I could throw a baseball from my driveway and hit the building. She always argued that Florida was too hot and she would miss her friends, but the opportunity to see her grandchildren each day for the rest of her life finally outweighed any argument.

So, Luke and I have breakfast with her on the way to school, and MB brings Maggie by after school. We all stop by at night and we hope to get her out today in her wheelchair. Tomorrow we get to share our table with her for a Thanksgiving that will have more meaning than ever. She has given me much in my life, and for that I am thankful. I hope you all get the chance to say thanks to those you can. KC



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