By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko
Jan 15th 2016
In the morning Bernie seems rested and not much changed from yesterday. Soon he, Alisa and I are greeted by Mark Keroack, President/CEO of Baystate Hospital, accompanied by senior staff, wanting to make sure Bernie’s getting the quality care he needs. We have no trouble assuring him that his staff and hospital are terrific. After that, terrific specialists examine Bernie’s body-mind, he gets that “too many people” look on his face again and says little. They’re satisfied with his progress, but we feel he may have slid back a little from yesterday.
Afternoon: Nap, lunch, and picture time. Alisa shows him photos of his family of origin: parents, four older sisters, aunts and cousins.Bernie points at each and calls them by name: Edith, Bea, Selma, Sally, my mother (who died when he was 7), my father. He looks at a photo of him surrounded by four adoring sisters who came to part from him when he sailed to Israel in the early 1960s. “Where were you going?” we ask. “Ship,” he replies. He studies each photo carefully, telling tales of his Communist aunts of whom he’s very proud. We follow most of it.
He asks Rami about who’s attending the planning meeting for the Black Hills summer retreat (he and Eve had to cancel).
He begins to tease his nurse. She asks him: “Do you know your name?” “Yes,” he answers, and nothing more. She shakes her head. “Funny man!” Alisa says that soon we should ask you to offer prayers for the nursing staff taking care of Bernie as well as for Bernie. At some point he chats so much, lots of it quite coherent, that we wonder whether it’s really such a good idea for him to learn to talk again.
Other times he subsides into a tired silence, or else the words are too slurred for our ears. The right side of his body is still fairly—well—still. Still no better antidote to expectations than reality.
But when the staff takes him down for an MRI he thanks them with a half-gassho, which we explain is a gesture of respect and appreciation. “I thought he was trying to shake my hand,” the young aide says. “This I like better.”
So much appreciation to all of you for your thoughts, wishes, meditations and prayers. Bernie shares a room with a Cambodian man who’s been there for 2 months with only a grandson who visits him for a brief period each evening, otherwise he’s asleep all day with no family or friends to watch over him. I wish we knew his name, perhaps tomorrow. Please watch over him, too, along with Bernie.