Last year when Dave started to get really, really sick, life was difficult for us.
Our society does not like to see sickness nor death; we are mortally afraid of it.
No pun intended.
Some people looked away, asked me the questions not him, were visibly uncomfortable and just did not know how to deal with seeing someone so obviously sick.I had been made aware of this phenomena by my aunt when I accompanied her to doctors visits after battling breast cancer.
She told me ‘They don’t like to see old people or very sick people, so they will try to ignore me. Don’t let them.”
I was astonished, now my eyes had been opened, at how she was treated.
They DID look at me, to make sure I understood or at times just explained things directly to me, ignoring her completely!
We had fun. I refused to look at the doctors or nurses and pointedly looked at her instead.
When they pressed it i would simply look at her and say, ‘Well, what do you want?’.
We made it fun instead of insulting, like it was.
So I was ready for this when it started happening with Dave, especially when he was in a wheel chair.
We had talked about this weird social phenomena from my aunt’s stories and we have friends on wheels who have dealt with it most of their lives. so we knew what we were dealing with.
We had fun with it to take the bite out. We easily recognized the individuals who really got it and were so grateful for them, thanking them and pointing out what we noticed. The ones that slow down their pace, looked him in the eye, shook his hand, make physical touch, we noticed when that happened and were sure to thank them for those little gestures.
This is a story about one of those ones ones.
Dave needed a lot of medications and he was on drug trials that required understanding and assistance. We were fighting to beat the impossible odds after all and needed everything to go as smoothly as possible.
When we brought on the palliative care doctor we needed prescriptions from our local Norwood pharmacy to cover all the aspects of health care we were dealing with.
Dave was not strong enough to get out of the car and go in himself to put his prescriptions in, so I went in for him.
There was a new pharmacist in town and I had never met him. Young guy, like they all seem to be these days.
He introduced himself and shook my hand.
I told him about Dave and what he was fighting and that we would need these prescriptions regularly and that they may change as his physiology changed.
He asked a lot of questions looking me straight in the eye and seemed familiar with mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases.
He held my hand and said, ‘Can I meet this man?”
I said “He can’t come in, he is out in the car waiting.”
“Excuse me” he said and went back to speak with the other pharmacists before leaving the store.
He was gone quite a while as I was waiting for the prescription to be filled and when he came back he said to me, ‘I wanted to meet such a brave man. He is a very good man. You are a strong woman, I can see this. You take very good care of him. Please let me know if you need any help understanding any of the medications or if you have any concerns’.
He made me cry. His genuine caring and beautiful heart was a balm at such a time in our lives.
When I got back to the car, Dave was teary too.
This man was not going to dismiss him or ignore him. By coming to the car he gave Dave his dignity back, made him feel in control again.
He said he could see the heart in this man and it really impressed him. He said it was so nice to see such a good person, a rarity in our troubled part of the world.
The young pharmacist always asked about Dave when I came in for the prescriptions and encouraged and complimented me. When Dave died, I went in to tell him the sad news, but he was not there and I never saw him again.
I had taken my friend Mohammadsaid to a doctors appointment and we needed to get a prescription filled.
My Kurdish is non existent and his English is coming along really well, but it’s not easy to communicate.
We use google translate and charades. We actually have many deep religious and philosophical discussions that way. He has his masters in Islamic religion.
Anyway, today, he is trying to guide me to a particular pharmacy because they have pharmacists who speak Arabic, which he speaks fluently as he was a professor of that language in his pre war life.. and they have him on file. But of course he does not know all the street names and Peterborough is very new to him so he’s looking for landmarks as I drove slowly across Landsdown street until ‘Yes turn here, yes over there across from the big shopping mall!’. We park at the right place and go in.
I see that a fellow I had met from the New Canadian Centre works there and I say hello. We shake hands.
He motions to a fellow in the back and I say hello to him too, thinking his familiarity is from the weekly Arab drop in I had visited a few times or an event I had gone to, but as I am looking at him I am thinking, no.. it’s somewhere else. I asked the pharmacist I knew from the New Canadian Centre if the young man in the back had ever worked in Norwood.
Yes it was him!
I asked him if he remembered me and Dave.
‘Of course!’ He exclaimed, and I realize he had been trying to place me too.
“I had tried to phone you to offer my condolences but the number was wrong.”
He would have had Dave’s cell phone number on file.
He came around the counter and shook my hand offering his condolences now.. “I remember you were healthy and had no prescriptions.’
I told him how much his kindness had meant to both of us and that we had often talked about him as an example of good people.
“Please, tell my Father this! This is his pharmacy and I have come back to help him here. As you see, he is growing grey hair and needs me”, he laughed.
There was lots of laughter as the father hugged his son who was still teasing him.
So I told his father what a good man his son was to Dave and myself and that he should be proud he raised such a son.
There was a lot of laughter and some tears on my part as everyone joined in on the story.
It felt so nice to be amidst good people.
We need to remember how many good people there really are and appreciate them.