Following my adventures with sheep on Saturday, I headed down the road on Sunday morning for Easter Dinner at the farm with my hospice client’s family & friends. Though it was chilly, I dug out a bright summer broomstick skirt and soft loafers. In addition to being a guest, I knew I could be a help with my gentleman. He growing weaker but he and I have developed ways to deal with this while maintaining his dignity and comfort.
I arrived to find him dawdling at the breakfast table while his wife and daughter created whirlwinds of clanging dishes, laughter and wonderful smells in the kitchen. There were ten of us and the menu was spectacular. Fresh cream of asparagus soup, spinach soufflé, roasted potato casserole and of course, lamb.
An Easter service was to take place in the garden room then we could set the table and gather. Joe, the farm manager, was preceded through the door by Sheba, his Aussie puppy. “I thought we were going to have a real Easter Lamb but instead we have a prolapsed uterus.” Silence as I looked from face to face.
“I can settle Father for a quick nap before lunch and go help. Can someone loan me jeans, socks and pair of boots?” We worked quickly and once he was comfortably in bed with his oxygen, I changed and headed up the road, slopping along in too-large boots with a hefty amount of grit in the soles. I found Joe loading equipment into his truck in front of the barn. We rode up to the pasture and the sheep eyed us warily. Joe rattled grain in a bucket but the flock was spooky. We worked across the field, herding from opposite ends. Had we wanted to catch one of the goats we would have been all set. They were intensely curious about what we were doing and didn’t see why the sheep should get the grain.
“Come on mamma, it’s OK mamma, let us help you mamma,” I chanted as I leaned in to our target. Joe made the grab; I unwrapped a woolen scarf from my neck and used it as a soft collar to calm her. Holding her head, I crooned to her as Joe managed to … well you don’t really need the details.
Back at the house, I washed up and changed but had just missed the service. The Garden Room was emptying out and guests were scattering to find plates and utensils as the table was set up. We sat, a blessing was said, hands were held and Easter Dinner was a joy.
As my friend started to fade, I excused us and we headed back to his bedroom. We have found clever ways to deal with his increasing weakness. My favorite is “Lock you knees and tell me what the cows are up to.” This focuses his attention up to the window and helps keep him up right as I maneuver to get him into bed. He still weighs more than me, so we do a subtle dance to the edge of the bed. Once he was settled and comfortable I slipped out to change back into the sheep-nurse outfit. This time I drove to the pasture. When I didn’t see the ewe in question, I stopped at Joe’s cabin and found him taking a nap. He had moved her to the barn on maternity rest and expected a long night ahead.
There seemed little need to change again as dinner was over and everyone was crowded in the kitchen doing dishes. I left in the borrowed clothes. Once home, I changed in to barn clothes for a quick ride before dinner with Hanni. Our horses are well matched and a gallop through the greening fields in the late afternoon light exhilarating. Well worth every change of outfit!