lyrics and music for hymn god be with you till we meet again

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

lyrics and music for hymn god be with you till we meet again

Its no secret that I’ve been a hospice volunteer for over a decade now.  I continue to see my little piece of involvement in end of life care as a privilege and a gift.  I know that when my feelings change, it’ll be time to move on to something else. But I’m not there yet. Even after all these years, sometimes I experience a goosebumps moment.

Recently, I regularly spent time with a bedridden patient and sat with her while her husband got out of the house and ran a few errands.  He’d visit with me a bit, make sure she was settled, assure her he’d be back shortly.  Then he’d take off to take care of the little things that we don’t even think about.  Little things become a logistical issue when you’re a full-item caregiver.  While he was gone, she and I would visit until she tired, then she’d rest.  I’d stay close, within touching range, in her line of sight, and I’d read a book until he returned.  She always woke up when he returned.

One visit, while she was sleeping, he initiated a frank conversation about her death and his own life after she was gone.  He said he’d be okay if she just died in her sleep one night, and that their sons would be around to keep an eye on him.  And he promised me that he’d take care of himself, that he’d be okay.

The next week, while he was out, she spoke to me about how her husband and sons would manage without her. She said she knew they’d be heartbroken and lonely, but that it would be okay anyhow.  She told me she was finally going to see her son again – the one who’d died in a horrific accident decades ago.  She said she’d see me again, but neither of us said “next week”. She drifted off to sleep and I stayed by her side, holding her hand feeling bones and warmth and heartbeat beneath delicate skin .  Her eyes fluttered open as her husband returned from his appointment.  This tiny little bedridden woman flashed me to most brilliant smile then turned her gaze towards him.

We chatted for a bit, then my visit time ended and I prepared to leave. I leaned down over the hospital bed,  she and I shared a gentle hug.  I turned towards her husband, standing right there.  Instead of releasing me from our hug, he pulled me closer, over to her bed. He placed my hand on her shoulder.  He said we were going to sing together, God Be With You Till We Meet Again.  I’m sorry to admit I didn’t know the words.  So I hummed along and listened as she gathered enough breath to get a few of the lyrics out.  He, a man very near his ninth decade, sang with the voice of  youth.  He sang with strength, and sorrow, and utter faith and trust.  We ended the song with tears in our eyes, and we said goodbye.

Then, as he did every single week,  he asked if I’d taken a look at the literature he’d left for me.  Photos and testimonials and pamphlets for a miracle health product which had saved his life.  Yes, it was an amway product pitch, each and every visit. That  slightly awkward multi-level marketing opportunity provided us a transition from this confidential little life story back to the day-t0-day of the world around us.  Plus, you know, it was an amazing opportunity, too.

As I headed  towards my car, I heard the click of the deadbolt, just as I’d heard each and every week since I’d starting seeing these two.  In the car,  I paused before starting the ignition. I reminded myself that goodbyes are part of the deal when spending time with people who are dying.  I took a few breaths, gathered my composure, and mustered up some patience for the inevitable highway traffic I was about to face.  And I drove off.

Later, I contacted the hospice office and asked for an update on the patient’s condition.  I was told that her decline continued but there was no evidence that her passing was imminent.  Of course, we never can tell for certain, but there were no changes that would suggest she would die very soon.

But she knew.  And he knew.  And so did I.

We knew I’d never again enter that overheated room, where she liked the drapes closed  for privacy.  That I wouldn’t  hear about their farm, long since sold,  or sift through and admire photos of children and grandchildren.  I knew that I’d never again gently deflect his requests for me to share marketing materials with all my friends. We knew that we’d not have another opportunity to thank one another for the gift of our time together.

And she passed away, quietly, in her sleep.

Goodbye.

 

 

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Why I’m a Fan of Martin Clunes

Why I’m a Fan of Martin Clunes

It is no secret that I’m a big-time fan of Martin Clunes.  For those who don’t know (there are lots of you, no doubt), Martin Clunes is an accomplished actor who’s  practiced his craft for a few decades now.  Much of his work can be found on British television, and lately he’s best known for Doc Martin, a ridiculously popular comedy drama that has aired in Great Britain for nearly 15 yea12185454_970029023040726_77162566738904240_ors.  As an actor, Martin Clunes is a master of physical comedy and subtle facial expression, and he’s a joy to watch on Doc Martin.  He’s portrayed a cartoon puppy, a swinger, a sad bachelor, and a serial killer (chillingly) and lots of other things.   I admire his tremendous talent, but also his professionalism.  His long career didn’t just fall in his lap.

Doc Martin is produced by Buffalo Pictures, which is a partnership between Martin and his wife, Philippa Braithwaite.  He says she’s the brains and details.  I think this man is slightly more savvy than many think, and the work he and his wife have done together is first class.  I’m hoping to see more documentaries, even though I’m sure they’re not huge money-makers and may be hard sell to networks focused on the bottom line.  Regardless, these two people work clearly compliment one another professionally.  As far as I can tell, their personal life is far more normal than some of our celebrities here.  I admire the groundedness of this family. Its cool that they don’t seek the spotlight.

My friends say he’s not the most attractive man.  Those who’ve met him tell me he’s incredibly charismatic.  Pretty standard for an actor – that presence is kind of necessary on the screen, isn’t it?  Well, he’s tall and has green eyes and graying blond hair, neither of which I’d complain about. The man loves dogs and horses and children and has a silly streak – how could anybody not like that? And yes, he’s got those ears and self-proclaimed “child-bearing lips” (remember I said savvy…?).

But, well, I’ve always been taken by the doing rather than the being.  Martin and Philippa hold an annual fair on their property, raising huge amounts of money for three charities.  Two of those charities are hospices.  Those who know me well are aware that hospice has a special place in my heart.  I’ve volunteered with a local hospice for years.  My dog was a therapy dog and wagged her tail through all kinds of places and solicited pats and hugs and smiles and joyful eyes from all kinds of folks.

Take a look at these photos, recently taken at Julia’s House Children’s Hospice in Dorset. Martin Clunes brought Heidi, Arthur, Penny and Jim by for a visit with some of of the residents.

Martin and his Dogs Visit Julia’s House

So, I know, you’re saying yeah, yeah, what celebrity doesn’t support charity – they need the tax write-off and the PR.  I get that.  So here’s the deal… I get to decide whether I think Martin Clunes does all this just for the photo-op (and yes, there was a photographer there) or because he genuinely enjoys what he’s doing.  I’ve  decided to go with… both.   Yes, the reality is that his job requires him to be visible. But hey folks, he showed up at the Julia’s House Children’s Hospice (one of the charities he and Philippa support) with his four dogs in tow, wearing ordinary-people clothing and a smile.  And the photos we see show the kind of interaction I would love to manage when I visit patients.  Even naysayers who claim he’s a talented actor and that’s what he’s doing – even they cannot tell me those kids aren’t engaged and exited and enjoying themselves.  The man brings joy to sick children.

How can I not love that?

Now you know why I am aMartin Clunes fan.