Tag Archive | Wisconsin

UFF DA

Yesterday morning’s prayer in Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim by Edward Hays included these lines:

Grant me the grace to look with respect
upon all I will meet this day
and upon every event I encounter.
Mindful that I am a pilgrim,
may I treat each and every one with reverence and love,
as a manifestation of you to whom I journey.

Uff daAs I read those words, the word that came to my mind was UFF DA. (For those of you who don’t know the expression, UFF DA is a Norwegian expression that is comparable to “good grief,” or “oy vey,” or “Oh no!” It’s a phrase that can stand in for any mild expletive, especially for people who like to avoid swear words.)

UFF DA came to mind because of my plans for the morning. I was going to take “Mary,” one of the three 92-year-olds we care for, to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Madison to get an official state photo ID. She has never had a driver’s license, although she did have an official Illinois photo ID from several years ago when she lived in Illinois. She may need a Wisconsin ID to vote, but more urgently, she recently discovered that she needs a Wisconsin ID to cash in her Savings Bonds. I spent about an hour online Sunday trying to figure out the requirements to get a Wisconsin ID. They’re not easy. I was anticipating a challenging time at the DMV. I wasn’t disappointed.

Mary and I walked up to the DMV clerk with all the documentation we could assemble to prove she was who she said she was – her old Illinois photo ID, her social security card, her Medicare card, and a bank statement with her current Wisconsin address on it.

Waiting in Line 4The clerk said, “Do you have a birth certificate?”

I said, “No, but her Illinois photo ID card shows her date of birth.”

“But Illinois doesn’t have the same standards for guaranteeing authenticity that Wisconsin has,” she replied.

I put my arm around Mary and said with a smile, “I can vouch for the fact that she was born – she’s here.”

The clerk responded, also with a smile, “For any first-time Wisconsin ID to be issued, a certified birth certificate is required.”

I said, “It sounds like elder discrimination to me. What do you think, Mary?” We were all still smiling.

Mary replied, “I’ve never had to show a birth certificate before.”

“Could we talk with a supervisor who might be able to waive this requirement since we have proof of her age on an official government ID from Illinois?” I asked.

“We never make exceptions on the birth certificate requirement. I can give you information about how to get a birth certificate. What state were you born in?”

“Illinois,” was Mary’s response.

I asked Mary, “Do you want to make a scene?” She had a concerned look on her face. “We can do that,” I said to her, grinning.

Before Mary could respond, the clerk said, “I don’t think you look like people who will make a scene.”

So then I said to Mary, “Well, I guess we won’t get your ID today. You must not have prayed hard enough.” Mary prays a lot. I was sure she had prayed about getting her ID card.

“I didn’t pray at all for this. I thought we’d just walk up, show the paperwork, and get the ID. I don’t understand why there’s a problem.”

Unfortunately, being as prepared as we could be and being as pleasant to the clerk as we could be were not enough. I’ll continue to help Mary jump through all the hoops to get her ID so she can cash in her Savings Bonds, and maybe even vote. Uff da. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. As soon as we got home, I went online to read the requirements for getting a birth certificate from Illinois. That won’t be easy either. Uff da again.

A few years ago, Mim created a life mission statement – To nurture and respect, advocate for, and provide hospitality for those who are vulnerable. Today I took on the role of advocate for Mary.

Uff da. I think I’m going to have to keep praying the Planetary Pilgrim’s prayer before and after every interaction I have with Wisconsin and Illinois employees as I try to help Mary jump through all the hoops.

Grant me the grace to look with respect
upon all I will meet this day
and upon every event I encounter.

Uff da mug

Friends

Abbey-Marian

 

“Good morning, Abbey. You’re up bright and early this morning.”

“Yeah. Good morning, Mom. You moms sure got home late last night. I was waiting and waiting and waiting to talk with you, and when you finally came home, you went right to bed.”

Ann giving Abbey breakfast.

Ann giving Abbey breakfast.

“I’m sorry, Abbey. I didn’t know you wanted to talk. We had a wonderful day in Chicago yesterday, and we did stretch it a little more than we intended. I’ll tell you all about it, but first, tell me what you wanted to talk about all day yesterday.”

“Okay. I don’t know if you know it, or not, but every Sunday morning when you go to church, I spend some time thinking back over the previous week, and thinking ahead to what the upcoming week will bring. It’s my time for meditation.”

“I didn’t know that’s what you did, Abbey. That’s great!”

“Well yesterday, I thought a lot about the week in Boston, with the two bombings and everything that followed. It was a terrible tragedy. But, you know, I was SO PROUD of my cousins, the therapy dogs. They did such good work, comforting everyone in Boston from the injured and grieving to the police and other investigators, and everyone else in Boston who just couldn’t believe what was happening. My cousins did their jobs beautifully, showing everyone how to relax and take comfort knowing that we love them. You know, God created dogs for the primary purpose of demonstrating what real love is. I was so proud watching my cousins at work!”

Abbey welcoming Edith when she first came to live with us.

Abbey welcoming Edith when she first came to live with us.

“Yes, Abbey, your comfort dog cousins did beautiful work in Boston, just like you do beautiful work at home. I bet you spent time with Ann, letting her pet you, while we were gone yesterday.”

“Yup. I let her feed me, too. She likes that. She always tells me to chew my food and eat slowly. I don’t think she knows that every meal is a race for us dogs – to eat all our food before anyone else can get it. But she loves me, and I love her, too. Remember Edith? I loved her so much. I spent hours every day sitting by her side. And Patti. I crawled into bed with Patti to comfort her just a few days before she moved to heaven. Oh, and speaking of crawling into bed, remember how I used to wake Doris up every morning, by jumping in bed with her and licking her face until she woke up giggling! And Mary used to sneak me food from the table. I’ve had so many wonderful friends living here with you at Country Comforts Assisted Living.”

“Speaking of friends, Abbey, that’s why we went to Chicago yesterday, and why we came home so late. We went to the city to see lots of our old friends. We moved from Chicago to Wisconsin 21 years ago, but we still have lots of wonderful friends in Chicago. We started the day by going to Resurrection Lutheran Church. Before church started, we talked with a few old friends, then we worshiped together, and then we talked and talked and talked throughout coffee hour. We chatted with Gladys, Donna, May, Betsy, Brian, Harry, and we met some new people, too. It was so much fun to spend time with all these great friends, just like we used to do when we lived in Chicago.”

Abbey and Mary sharing a special moment together.

Abbey and Mary sharing a special moment together.

“Did you have time to eat any food, or did you just talk?”

“Oh, we took time to eat, too. And Gladys sent a coffee cake and some cookies home with us.”

“That’s good. What did you do next that kept you out so late?”

“We drove Gladys home from church. She’s in her 90s now, and doesn’t get around as easily as she used to. Then we drove a couple miles to North Park University, where Mim used to teach nursing. North Park was having a special service and reception to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of their chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing. Mim is a charter member of that organization, and she thought this would be a good opportunity to see some of her nursing colleagues. Did she ever talk a lot with them! We spent over three hours there. But one of her closest teaching buddies, Linda, wasn’t able to come to the event because she wasn’t feeling well. So Mim and I drove to her home in the suburbs to visit for a few minutes – which turned into an hour. Mim really enjoyed talking with all her old cronies. Then we came home.

Doris and Abbey comforting each other.

Doris and Abbey comforting each other.

“There’s an old saying that ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ I agree that laughter is a good medicine, but I think friendship is an even better medicine. Both Mim and I were so refreshed by being with some of our old friends again for a few hours. There’s another old quote that I like. ‘Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.’ (Marcel Proust) Our souls are blossoming again after our wonderful day with friends yesterday.”

“That’s good to hear, Mom. I have a quote about friendship that I really like, too. ‘The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.’ (Henry Nouwen) That’s the kind of friends dogs are.

“Abbey, I’m glad we’re not just family, we’re really good friends, too.”

“Me, too, Mom. And I’m thankful for all the new friends you bring home to live with us. Old friends, new friends, I love them all. That’s the way God made us dogs.”

Best friends and family.

Best friends and family.