Since we have been spending some time reharsing our journeys and remembering our colleagues, I thought I would like to catch people up a bit on Mary Lou Peterson. She interned in Rochester and was assigned at least to St. Louis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Chicago with sojourns in Indonesia and Mexico. Since some of us were as known as much through the assignments of our children as we were by our own, I will rehearse that hers are Rob Jinks (married with three girls and a boy) and Michelle Jinks Warnimont (divorced with two sons), both of whom now live in the Chicago area.
Some of you may know that a couple of years ago Mary Lou was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease/Tuesdays with Morrie, etc.). We all have those in the circle with whom we have been closer or remained closer than others. This is the case with Mary Lou and me. She had been a participant in, lurker on the dialogue for awhile, but as managing her computer became more difficult she separated from the list.
Just four years ago she went with me to New Mexico to visit Esther. We went horseback riding and mountain climbing. Before I moved out to Iowa to be with Dad, I helped her move from her condo on North Sheridan into independent living in the Presbyterian Home in Evanston, Illinois. I went back less than a year later to help her move into the Nursing Home there.
Mary Lou’s spirit is as effervescent as ever. For all of those of you who remember her exceptional problem solving skills, she has applied them in every way you can imagine as her physical ability has diminished. She even took a position on the resident board that worked with the home administration to make the entire Presbyterian Home facility more accessible to the variety of handicaps represented in the population there.
Her condition is deteriorating at an increasingly rapid pace. She is dependent on others for nearly all movement as control of her extremities is gone. Her swallow reflex is almost gone (they have put in a feeding tube) and you can hear it in her voice. Our phone conversations that used to last until all the news was shared, now last ten minutes at most.
I share this with you, probably selfishly, to disperse the intensity of my care. Then I say that there have been times I have learned only after the fact of the journeys and struggles of some of my colleagues and have felt cheated that I did not have the opportunity to at least send energy their way. Some of you may have read some of the work of Larry Dossey on the effect of prayer in the medical milieu. His research showed that the most effective prayer of all was “Thy will be done.” I suspect it is the most useful because it helps us let go of our own desire to control reality and leaves the subject of the prayer free to do their journey.
I guess I want the highest possible quality of life, considering the prognosis, to flow through Mary Lou for all her remaining days. Some of you may wish to participate in enhancing it. Thanks to you all for listening. Grace and Peace,
~~ Margaret Aiseayew