My Friend Keeton
Keeton had been homeless through no fault of his own. Now diagnosed as terminally ill, he waited alone to die. Considering his advanced age, the doctor said he would be lucky to last a month.
No one should die alone so we took him in. After all, there but for the grace of God, go I.
Keeton never spoke of his past. He never spoke much at all. His eyes told his story, yet they also expressed his desires. It was as if he expected us to read his mind and we almost could.
He loved to take long walks between naps. I always went with him. He took in all the wonder of nature with such enthusiasm and appreciation that I too became aware of what I had been overlooking. Wildflowers in dozens of varieties, colors and fragrances lined our path. Each oak tree stood tall and strong in its individuality. Rocks were no longer just rocks, especially ones which were broken, displaying sparkle or color or design.
Most of all, I re-experienced the sky. You see our walks were not just on sunny days. We walked in the rain. Several times, we even walked in the snow at 2:00 am. The best walks of all were the ones in the middle of the night under a cloudless sky. The vastness of the universe; its blackness adorned with thousands of sparkling diamonds; the Milky Way, an occasional shooting star. We always walked slowly. After all, exercise was not the purpose.
Usually our daytime walks ended in the front yard, resting on the grass. Sometimes Keeton would just lie on his back and stare up into the sky. Was he wondering about heaven?
Now each morning when I see he is still among the living, I breathe a sigh of happiness. That special bond grew so quickly and so strong. It will be another day that I am grateful for. Another day shared with Keeton.
One month turned in to two and then six and then a year. By April we had shared 20 months together. So much for a medical diagnosis! They obviously didnít take love into account.
Dementia has become a part of Keetonsí many ailments. The indecision
and confusion gives us time to pause. Life has many directions and
thinking hard which way to turn can be important. Iíve learned to overcome
impatience and a weak stomach. Cleaning up accidents, preparing a special
diet, being a crutch to lean on or a hoist to get him to his feet, have
all become part of my daily routine.
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