Tuesday, January 25, 2011


 I handled a call this morning for an MVP. Many times these calls are a pleasure to do, but on occasion they can be upsetting or depressing.
 An "MVP" is my term for Municipally Valuable Person. My cute way of referring to people in our community who have value to all of us. These are usually not politicians or other 'important' people. These are the people that make up the real fabric of our area. They are the writers, the local historians, the folks that go to the grammar schools and tell stories, the ones who have built this community. The teachers,  the musicians,  the contractors, the stone masons, the store owners, the folks that ran the Sunday schools for years on end, the Scout Leaders, The coaches, the school bus drivers. All of these are personalities that shaped the way we interact with each other, how our kids grew up, and what we, as a community, have become, as well as where we are going.
 George was a renowned local writer with national impact. He specialized in the history and preservation of a particular type of barn architecture, and he knew more about it than anybody else in the world. He freely shared that knowledge through his books, magazine articles, and workshops. He also put his hands to the task on many preservation projects. He had an interest in varieties of corn grown in our area during the colonial era and had managed to secure some strains of this 'blue corn' and waged a campaign to re-introduce it several years back. George was an MVP, no doubt.
 I used to see George all the time in the local coffee shop and say 'hi'. The last time we talked about anything of meaning was years ago, but we each recognized each other every time we met. Two months ago I happened to be at a garage sale at a friends house and somebody stopped in asking for directions to a particular road miles from where we were and on a lark, I asked the lost driver who's house he was looking for . He told me it was George's, and I said " Oh Hell, I know where George lives, you'll have a hard time finding it, just follow me and I'll bring you over." "Gee! Thanks!" the old guy said. I asked what the occasion of the visit was and he mentioned that it was George's 80th birthday. I told him to wish George Happy Birthday from me, and I led him along, pointing out the driveway as I passed the house. Never thought about it again until I got called to that house this morning.
 [knock, knock] "Who's There?" "Rescue Squad, did you call for an ambulance?" " Yes, Please come in, we're back here and my hands are full just now."
 I walked into the bedroom to find George naked and half standing with the assistance of a home health care aide. "He's had a rough morning and is not acting normally. He's has pooped himself which he rarely does and he is not talking to me as much as usual. Also he is leaning to one side a lot, something is wrong." George is smiling and appears truly happy to have a visitor. I call dispatch to let them know what I have, provide details so that the ALS rig can find the driveway and slow there response, and also warn them that the driveway is like polished glass. Then I check the basics and help the aide clean George up while going through all the questions. The Medic arrived and we put together a history. George had experienced a debilitating stroke over a year ago and has had home care ever since. It was tough to see him that way when weighed against the last time I saw him. Still he had a smile on his face and every question I asked him he gave an answer with the smile on his face that I had always known. He only had about 8 words he could use these days, but every one had a smile attached to it. His eyes still had that sparkle that could suck you into his enthusiasm for whatever subject he was talking about. It fully looked to me that George still had his passion, it was just focused in a smaller scope these days. I confess that I had a difficult time differentiating between treating a patient and helping an old friend. I think I split the difference.
 As I age myself, and attend these calls at homes, and for people I have known over the years, I begin to realize how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing at this age. I care for an awful lot of people with 'aging issues' that are younger than myself and it is beginning to scare me a bit.
 Fate wields a random sword stroke.

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