Half-blind, near-deaf & masked; A setup for bumbling humour

Anyone who knows me well, especially my family and Facebook friends, knows that I enjoy humour. That’s especially true in relation to things that I have no power to change, must somehow accept, and don’t particularly like. Masks have been the object of my humour for quite some time. Sometimes that humour spills over into day to day living… 

Ok. So I’m not blind or deaf, but being near-sighted, I can’t see faces and expressions clearly at 6 plus feet away. (I’ll get to the ‘deafness’ later). Even less so when the other person is wearing a mask. With the new mandatory mask requirements in some places, this makes life especially interesting….

So, there I was, yesterday, having to wear a mask to the viewing of my sister-in-law’s father. Masks are required at funeral visitations. I respect that. The regulations are letting more people through than I would have expected by this time, due to COVID-19, so a mask is small price to pay to be able to have a visitation. I wish on no one what we went through as a family, being forced to bury a loved one without proper mourning rituals. So, gladly, I wore a mask.

Once inside, I placed the blue surgical mask on my face, and put on my glasses. They steamed up. I took them off again. I tried to get the mask to fit in such a way that my glasses didn’t steam, but eventually I resigned myself to wandering through the line with the mask and no glasses.

Up first was a tall handsome chap. Not trusting my vision, while still a short distance away, I asked Tim to make sure it was our nephew Reg, whose grandfather passed away. Tim confirmed it.

We stood and chatted a while with him and another grandson and his fiancee, waiting for the line to move. The other gentleman introduced his fiancee, and we talked about wedding with COVID, and how it has disrupted things. I commented about our son Toddrick and his fiancee Emily who have postponed their wedding until next year. Our nephew looked bewildered. I was surprised he didn’t seem to know anything about the wedding, and said “You were invited”, and laughed. Simultaneously, Tim touched my elbow and said, “This isn’t Reg”, as the gentleman chuckled and said, “I’m Landon.”

It turned out I was chatting with Reg’s cousin, who is about his height and build, and the poor fella was too polite to clue me in that I’m a total stranger, chattering on about my kids he has never met. 🤣 I had noticed his hair was a bit different, and at one point when he spoke, something wasn’t quite Reg. Little clues, but not wanting to squint, and certainly not wanting to close that 6-foot gap, it was all just peripheral.

After a good laugh, and feeling slightly embarrassed, we meandered on, offering our condolences, and keeping a good 6+ feet away, as required. People said things. They smiled and I smiled too. Half the time I could not hear what is said. I am just hearing impaired enough to make conversation difficult in  any environment, and I rely quite strongly on lipreading. This is true even in our own home, when Tim and I are a few feet apart. It is common for me to say to Tim, “Please turn and look at me”, when he speaks. I have low pitch hearing loss, and struggle with hearing hard consonant. This makes hearing men or women with lower tones very challenging for me. So today I learned how distressing, and at moments hilarious, it is to live in a masked world.

That stress behind us, we got in our car. We sat there for a moment talking about what happened. I felt two things simultaneously. I laughed at what had happened, while fighting tears at the frustration of not being able to see or hear what is happening. Frustrated at what all this whole COVID fiasco has taken from us. But, no time to stay there… 

We’re not the kind to spontaneously go out for dinner. In our 26 years of marriage, no doubt we have done it, but not often. Nonetheless, I made the suggestion. Seeing as we were all dressed up and ready to go — a detail I pitched to hubby during my request — it made perfect sense to take advantage of the moment. 

We decided we would start with one restaurant to see if they had room on the patio, and, if not, we would weave our way through Kitchener until we found a spot with a patio and room.

Tim, role playing ordering at the restaurant, and indulging my love of poking fun at masks, said, “I think I’ll just have the soup, thank you. That’s all that will fit through my mask.”

At East Side Mario’s we had a charming server, with a delightful sense of humour. We sat and enjoyed our impromptu date, sans masks, eating more than soup broth, and enjoying each other’s company.

It’s wonderful to be married to your best friend, who can laugh with you, as we laugh at ourselves.

It was a good day.

*****

For those interested, there is a solution to the problem of masks hiding smiles, and preventing lip-reading. Click the photo to go to the website and order a windowed mask. It will probably steam up too, but maybe it’s better than nothing.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

For family & friends of Cornelius Harder: His cancer journey and final days

Cornelius W. Harder • February 22, 1960 – April 24 2020

*****

NOTE:
In light of COVID-19 restrictions, we are not able to hold a proper funeral or visitation for Cornelius Harder. This includes most immediate family members.

FUNERAL LIVESTREAM DETAILS: On Monday April 27, 2020, at 2:00pm EDT, the funeral for Cornelius Harder will be livestreamed via YouTube at the following link: Kebbel Funeral Homes.

*****

On Thursday April 23, 2020 family members of Cornelius and Susan (Bender) Harder received word that Cor, my brother, was declining rapidly. Knowing how difficult support is during COVID-19, I took some masks and gloves to his home to ensure his wife had all supplies needed. I anticipated dropping off the product, and possibly saying my goodbye to Cor if he was responsive, and then sitting in my vehicle awhile in the event Susan, Cor’s wife, needed help. However, shortly after arriving the VON nurse also arrived and asked if someone would be comfortable administering medications via port in the absence of a nurse. Susan, knowing I had done in-home elder care and worked as a nurse’s aid, years ago, suggested she talk to me.

Another sister and I, who both enjoy (for lack of better word) doing palliative care, spent the night with Susan and Cor, offering support and caring for his medical needs.  Our goal was to be present, monitor his condition, observing the progression of Cor’s decline, explaining any changes, and keeping Susan informed of what to expect next, so that she would not be taken off guard and frightened or traumatized. This allowed us to prepare her for his passing in a peaceful manner, keeping him comfortable and offering her the support she needed. It was an honour to offer this support.

*****

COR’S CANCER JOURNEY

On June 12 2018, only 22 days after he went to the doctor with initial symptoms, Cornelius Harder received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This began a 23-month journey in his fierce battle against this ruthless disease. On July 1, the physical suffering that would mark much of the next year and nearly ten months of his life, began, followed by the first of many trips to the hospital for pain management.

Surgeons were confident that surgery offered Cornelius the most likely chance at a full recovery, so by November 1, 2018, they successfully performed a Whipple procedure.  By April 2019, he had healed considerably, and was able to enjoy reasonably good health with minimal discomfort until August of that year. During these months Cornelius planted crops and kept up with his customers at Kenpal Farm Products Inc.

In mid-September 2019 a partially blocked bowel brought complications and reintroduced significant pain and suffering into Cornelius’s life. In October he was diagnosed with stage 4 recurrent pancreatic cancer. By November he experienced severe back pain, causing him to lose much sleep, leading to a challenging Christmas season. In the ensuing months, there was a gradual, yet steady decline in his health.

Even as he declined, growing weaker and weaker, he fought the disease valiantly, maintaining an element of independence and mobility, always concerned for Susan’s wellbeing and doing everything in his power to ensure she was cared for. But, in spite of his grit and determination, on April 18, 2020, standing by his bed, Cornelius became very weak. “My legs are going to give out,” he said to Susan “I’m going to fall.”

With Susan’s assistance, he managed to lay himself across his bed and wiggle back into position and get comfortable. This was the beginning of the home stretch. Cornelius maintained a good appetite and continued to eat well, for the most part. By Wednesday April 22, days after becoming bedridden, he had grown so weak that he was no longer able to feed himself, though he ate well with Susan’s assistance.

Early Thursday morning, April 23, Cornelius began sweating profusely without a fever. Susan’s concerns subsided when she offered him breakfast and he ate well. By mid-morning, in the middle of a conversation about the final details on the income tax return, Cornelius fell into a deep sleep which lasted until late afternoon. Not long after the VON nurse, Jennifer, arrived, he was suddenly alert, eyes wide open. Jennifer called Susan over, telling her she wouldn’t want to miss this time with Cornelius. This led to a delightful, endearing and humorous moment in Cornelius’s final hours.

Seeing Cornelius so alert, Susan smiled, kissed his forehead and expressed her love for him, to which he responded with warmth and affection, affirming his love for her. “It’s so good to see you wide awake, your eyes open,” Susan exclaimed, beaming.

“Have I been sleeping long?” he asked. She told him it had been awhile, but that he needed the rest and it was ok.

“Well,” he said, “while I’m awake I might as well sign the Income tax form.” The nurse, Susan and I all erupted in giggles to see him go from such a deep sleep we could barely communicate with him, to asking for papers to sign and complete.

Susan found the form and started flipping through the pages and commented at being uncertain where to find the spot that needed signing.  Instantly, Cornelius piped up, “It should be about page 3.”

A moment later he was set up to sign the documents. Declining visual focus made it challenging, but he got it done. This was his final act of practical care for Susan. Immediately he returned to a deep sleep.

A few people dropped by through the course of the evening to see Cornelius one more time. We were fortunate to have accessed masks to reduce risk of exposing Susan to flu viruses, while still allowing some of those closest to them to show their love and support. Dennis and Carolyn Martin and most of their family sang some favourite songs and hymns in the garage. Cornelius’s pleasure was visible.

Around 9:15 Cornelius became restless, the pain setting in again, and feeling obviously unwell. Nurses had left detailed instructions, and a phone number to call for help, so with their guidance we were able to settle down the pain. With Susan by his side for support, and the activities of the evening behind him, he was able to rest comfortable.

Shortly after 1:00am Susan said she knows what she needs to do, but oh how she dreaded it. She had heard that sometimes the dying feel when their loved ones cannot release them and fight to stay out of that sense of care and duty. After an hour of struggle, she took that difficult step, through tears, and assured Cornelius that God, family, friends and her church would care for her, and she would be ok. She released him to God, inviting the angels to carry him into God’s presence, to be with Jesus.

We played “Trust His Heart” by the Esh family, followed by a variety of hymns and songs familiar to Cornelius. He smiled, from time to time, resting peacefully, holding Susan’s hand, squeezing it gently. Then, soon after Susan released him, his breathing changed, growing more shallow, yet with no distress.

It was 2:39am. Susan needed to get something, so she released Cor’s hand for only a moment. Several of Cornelius’s sisters had stayed with Susan, and one noticed he opened his eyes and turned his head, as if looking for Susan, so she called her back.

Susan leaned over and kissed Cornelius’s forehead, “I love you so much dear husband!” she said. His face lit up in a wide smile, his eyes wide open, turned toward her.

“Look at that smile!” one of the sisters exclaimed. Susan could hardly contain her delight as she returned to her seat.

“Susan… Come…” one of the sister’s beckoned, “this is his moment. Cor is going home.” His heart never beat again, after that smile, and his next breath was the deep drinking in of eternal life.

At 2:41am, on April 24, 2020, with his wife Susan by his side, Cornelius slipped peacefully into the arms of Jesus, his Saviour, healed forever from the incredible suffering he endured in this life.

*****

Susan has given our brother exceptional care through his illness and their years together. As a family we are deeply grateful, and offer our love and support.

New Hamburg Conservative Mennonite Church and its leaders have again been compassionate and kind in their support as we go through this difficult time. It is especially meaningful so soon after supporting us in the loss of our mother. As a family, we express our thanks.

Special thanks to the VON nurses and PSW’s who supported Cor and Susan, so that he was able to stay at home with Susan, especially with the complications of COVID-19. The excellent care and compassion are appreciated by Susan and Cor’s family.

*****

God is kind.

In the midst of the trauma that comes with cancer and death, which is exponentially more complex and painful in light of COVID-19 restrictions, we find Hope in His goodness. We do not understand why now, at a time when we cannot properly gather to support each other without risk of arrest and extreme fines and consequences, including risk of imprisonment. But we know that God is not taken off guard. We know He cares deeply for each one of us. And trust and pray that when these restrictions are lifted, we will be able to find some way of connecting as a family, and beginning the healing process together.

Only a few siblings are able to be with Susan during this time to support her. I am not one of them, but she has my support 100% on the people she has chosen to be with her at this time. We have all experienced loss. But none of us have experienced loss to the extent that she has, losing her best friend, husband and partner in the day to day ups and downs of life. Having spoken with most of my siblings personally, while it is, admittedly, excruciatingly painful for those who cannot attend, each one echoed that support for her as well.

Please say a prayer for our sister Anna who is married to Leonard Hursh of Mt. Joy PA. She was able to cross the border, but as of yet there is no indication that she will even be able to see any family member, or go to the funeral home to find some closure, without the fear of extreme consequences even if masks and gloves are used. We are praying for a miracle. She and Cor were very close growing up and to not have her find some form of closure looks overwhelming for us all.

Finally, thank you to so many of you have prayed for Cor and Susan, and for our family, including many of my friends who don’t know them. We all prayed and cried out for a different outcome than the one we are walking through. But ultimately we prayed for healing, and his healing is now eternal. We are so thankful for Jesus, and the hope He offers us in this time.

As always…

With love,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Update: Anabaptist church in the Bronx & an invitation to a day of prayer and fasting, April 3

Each day I look forward to updates from Rich about what their church has been up to. It isn’t possible for me to do what they are doing, though I would long to do so, so for now I do the part I can: pray, share their updates, and contribute financially. A week ago I didn’t know he and Sandy are pastoring a church, and knew nothing about their church, and now  they have left a ‘heart print’ on my life, and many of you. Following is his update:

***A few disclaimers to our friends and acquaintances. As I read through your kind, thoughtful comments from last night’s post and noticed that many friends shared the post, I got a bit uneasy. I mean, our family and close friends and church know that my breath stinks if I don’t brush my teeth or take a breath mint, and I can blow up a bathroom with the best of them. Another way to put this? We are just ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. Some of you seem to have been preparing nominations for sainthood for Rich and Sandy. Please don’t waste your postage. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. We really do appreciate your prayers! Seriously.

This global, national, and local crisis is serious, despite those who think it is just a vast left-wing conspiracy to unseat the powers that be. Political hacks exist in every party and in every community, but this is more serious than any political hack. I am suggesting to our church group and to any other believers out there who are interested, please consider making Friday, April 3rd, a Day of Prayer and Fasting.

II Chronicles 7:12-14 is very relevant for such a time as this. “When I…send a pestilence…if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The people of God will always make the right choice when we humble ourselves, and pray and seek the face of God, and repent of anything we need to repent of. Fasting provides us a chance to identify more closely with the suffering that others are facing, and to direct ourselves away from our food [and other] addictions and towards God.

2 Chronicles 7:14

I am hesitant to mention names of people to pray for in this public forum, but if you are interested in a list of prayer requests email us at uwriterich@gmail.com

Friends have been asking how to give to us as we help here. We have a church PayPal account, bjcgive@gmail.com. The church received $880 in the past two days from friends interested in helping us as we help our community. If you want to give now, we will designate it for ministry for EMS workers, ER workers, and other persons affected by this crisis. We have a friend who lost his job, a friend whose business is struggling, and the friend on the ventilator we mentioned last night has some financial difficulties. Brianna said that we ought to see if we could start a fund to help people who are out of a job who can’t pay their rent. I think that’s a great idea. Unfortunately, this struggle is going to hit many parts of the US and world. We are in the middle of it right here in NYC, but there are places around the US and around the world that are soon going to be in the middle of it, either with the medical crisis or the economic crisis, and probably both. If you would rather give directly to us as a family you could PM us and we could send you our mailing or PayPal address.

We are hoping to recruit some help to take another set of sandwiches to the Jacobi Medical Center this Friday. I already asked Orville, our Christian friend on Boston Road whose restaurant is slow, if we can order our sandwiches from him. And he agreed to pay another friend who lost his job to come in and help him prepare the sandwiches. It’s probably not “trickle-down economy” for those who know the term. Maybe we’ll call it “Living Waterfalls” economy.

Brendan Weaver here at Believers in Jesus Church spearheaded some food distribution and prayer today, and sent an update to us, which I include below:

**Our church provided lunch for the EMS Station nearest us today. We provided food for 35 people including platters of sub sandwiches and a cookie platter from Subway, single-serving chip bags and drinks from Aldi. Suzie is the little Asian lady at Subway that I have worked with over the past two days for the food orders. I had explained our mission to her yesterday and today she seemed delighted to see me and was eager to help figure out exactly how much food would be need. Both days she went the extra mile to give discounts. Today as I was leaving, I bid her farewell with a “God bless.” Her response was, “No, God bless you.”

At the EMS Station it was a bit confusing to find the main entrance so I approach a running ambulance with a crew sitting in the front and explained my reason for being there. They directed me to the front door then they went inside to get help to carry the food. Probably 6 or 8 EMTs and Paramedics came out to help carry in the bags. They were all enthusiastic with their appreciation and thanks including cries of “God is good.” They asked me to come into the station where I met the desk lieutenant and EMT Guzman, who was my contact from yesterday. All were very grateful and appreciative that the church would reach out in this way. The lieutenant said about 50% of their staff is out sick and their call volume is higher than normal, but they are doing okay because they have received mutual aid support in the form of EMTs and paramedics from other states to help staff their ambulances. I spoke with them for a few minutes and then asked if it would be okay if we prayed together. They agreed and the group of 6-8 of us in the room had prayer together asking for God’s protection on them and our city. I explained that many churches are reaching out from across the USA wanting to know how to help and that they please let us know if they could think of any other way beyond food and prayer that we could be of assistance. I also made sure to attach prayer cards from Stan & Sharon to each platter of sandwiches and cookies and also gave them a stack of prayer cards. As I was leaving, they were sending out a message on their radio that the food had arrived. One thing is sure, the gift was appreciated and FDNY EMS Station 20 was blessed today.**

Ecc 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
1 Cor 3:7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

If you can join us, let’s make Friday, April 3rd, a Day of Prayer and Fasting.

Rich***

*****

About a week or two into the realization that there is a serious pandemic on our hands, and it isn’t only media hype, I found the photo (above), added 2 Chronicles 7:14, and made it my Facebook profile pic. At the time I had forgotten that the verses prior talk about God sending a pestilence, followed by this call to repentance. A pestilence is a fatal epidemic disease. It wasn’t until Rich wrote about it that this detail came back to me.

For many months, even years. there have been prophetic voices speaking into this, warning the people of God to repent, to turn back to His ways, or there will be consequences. From worshipping materialism, to holding our own beliefs as ‘salvation’ — or our good name — to disregarding Amos 5, where God makes it clear that He is sick of ‘worship’ when justice and mercy have lost their place, we need to repent and turn our hearts back to Him. If you want to know what is important to God, read Amos 5:

A Lament and Call to Repentance
Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
“Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”
This is what the Sovereign Lordsays to Israel:
“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”
This is what the Lord says to Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    do not seek Bethel (a holy place).
do not go to Gilgal (Joshua 4:20 – an alter),
do not journey to Beersheba (God’s promises, Genesis 26:23–33).
For Gilgal (the alter) will surely go into exile,
and Bethel (the holy place) will be reduced to nothing.[a]
Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground
He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!
25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus (a well-watered land),”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.
    Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

 

Do I think God is ‘sending’ the current epidemic?  No. Not at all. Disease is the result of our sin and fallenness. And when we cut God out, or turn from Him to idolatry, there are consequences. And idolatry is giving our primary allegiance and focus to anything other than God. It is exalting any other thing to the place reserved for Jesus, for God. Whether a physical idol, a belief system, or any other thing that I hold as part of my salvation or give my love and allegiance, we have a definite problem with idolatry in churches today. And God has stepped back. He has not abandoned us, but He has not prevented the consequences of sin from doing great harm. It is up to us to humble ourselves and cry out to Him.

I have written about it before, and it bears repeating. God calls believers to repent for the healing of the nation. I invite you to join in, Friday April 3, to fast and pray for our nation, to repent of what you need to repent of, and to stand in the gap for all impacted by this terrible devastation.

 

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020