Page 4 - Life and Times

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By Pat Leali
Ohio’s, high school had a nifty
class motto. They decided on:
“One day your life will flash before your
eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”
I doubt that those high-schoolers be-
lieved that you had to discover electrici-
ty, paint the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel or run for president of the Unit-
ed States to make your life worth
I’m pretty sure they meant that our
lives needed to be filled with purpose.
Maybe the purpose is to raise children
who are good citizens and model work-
ers. Maybe it’s to help those folks in
your town who can’t quite make it on
their own. Maybe it’s to be the best per-
son that you can possibly be – strong in
character and motivated both internally
and externally.
I like to think of all those folks I read
or hear about who are doing their
darnedest to make this world a better
place. Few of them are rich. I’m not
talking Warren Buffet or Bill Gates
here. Few of them are well-known, al-
though in their small towns or large
cities, their names may be sacrosanct.
They don’t have big budgets or accoun-
tants working for them. What they have
is purpose, a reason to swing their legs
over the bed in the morning.
I think of Ruth, who worked at Meals
on Wheels for years and years, making
sure that folks who couldn’t get their
own meals had something nutritious to
eat every day. Ruth kept at her job for
many years past retirement, and I’m
sure the folks who received the meals
were grateful that she did.
Or how about the aides who work at
nursing homes like Clepper’s or Nu-
gent’s or John XXIII. Their work is far
from glamorous, but think what life
would be like at those facilities without
I visited Mary in the skilled care area
of Nugent’s for several years. Mary had
a bit of dementia. She always knew who
I was, but she never remembered the
names of the nurses or aides who
helped her there. She didn’t know what
day it was or what city she was living
in. And Mary could be difficult – to say
the least – to deal with if you upset her.
I never felt the brunt of her anger, but I
was well aware that some of the nurses
and aides at Nugent’s did. Mary would
curse at them and threaten to do terri-
ble things to them. From time to time,
she would lash out physically.
Yet those same nurses and aides
took good care of her. They helped her,
soothed her, comforted her. They had
to overlook the outbursts and the vio-
lence and continue to do their jobs. I’m
sure at times it was extremely difficult.
But their lives were worth watching, be-
cause they cared.
Paula, Linda, Jay, Bethann and Kim
took care of their terminally ill parents
at home. One of them was there, day
and night, to give what was needed in
care. They slept on a couch when it was
their turn to spend the night, and they
endured the bad odors, the nasty
cleanups, the long days, the interrupted
sleep and the interminable wait for the
inevitable because they loved their par-
Rosemary, my sister-in-law’s cousin,
is helping her 100-year-old mother to
stay in her own home, not because
Rosemary thinks that is the best, but
because her mother insists she will do
nothing else. Rosemary is not 25 any-
more, and the long days – and some-
times nights – can wear on her. I’m
here to tell you that even wonderful
caregivers can get tired.
Rosemary’s mom is very hard of
hearing, and to make life a little more
manageable, has installed what sounds
like a fire siren for a doorbell.
Her mom also must use a walker to
get around, but she stubbornly insists
that “I can do it myself.” Her pride, if
not her balance, remains intact.
One evening as Rosemary waited for
the nighttime caregiver to arrive, she
fell asleep – heavily – on the couch. She
wakened to find the woman standing
over her. Surprised to see her, Rose-
mary asked: “How did you get in?”
“Your mother answered the door,”
the caregiver replied. Which meant, of
course, that Rosemary’s mother had
gotten out of bed and pushed her walk-
er to the door to answer it. Rosemary
was embarrassed but delighted at the
same time. Mom was quite resourceful
and aware, even if she was 100. And, of
course, that fire-siren doorbell didn’t
hurt either.
I was reading in a recent issue of
“Reader’s Digest” about a guy who
worked with a Rwandan charity assem-
bling bikes, which arrived in Rwanda in
many small pieces, so people could ride
them to work, school or to a well to get
clean water. Not exactly rocket science,
but goodness, how worthwhile!
I thank God often for the guys who
drive the garbage truck. And I know
that our church does too. One week the
garbage men were on strike, and the
garbage piled up in the Dumpster. It
would be bad enough if it had piled up
in my garbage can, but the Dumpster is
much bigger – and much stinkier. Be-
cause we also have a preschool and day
care at the church, we have more
garbage than many homes – and a lot
more soiled diapers.
The maintenance man began to put
the excess garbage bags in the garage,
so nocturnal animals would not tear
them apart. The garage began to fill up.
We never realized we had so much
garbage until that fateful week.
The day the garbage truck finally
drove up, I know that I breathed a deep
sigh of relief. Probably everyone else
did too. And I said another prayer for
the garbage truck drivers. They needed
– and deserved – it.
A meaningful life: Doing. Being.
I’m going to look mine over a little
more carefully from now on. í
September 2013
Pat Leali,
a lifelong resi-
dent of the Shenango Val-
ley, graduated from Sharon
High and Westminster Col-
lege. She has lived in
Hermitage for more than 45
years and has 3
children and 8 grandchil-
dren. She has been a
writer forever and ever, be-
ginning with the fairy tales
she wrote,
a la
the Broth-
ers Grimm, for her brother
when she was only 12.
Contact her at paleali@hot-
A life worth watching
When your life eventually flashes before your eyes,
will there be anything meaningful in it worth watching?
What makes a meaningful life?
Doing. Being. Helping.