Home for the Holiday     11/2004

When Bill called IVC his expectations of our ability to help him were minimal. He started the conversation with, "I know it's a holiday, and I know you won't have a lift van, and we aren't clients of IVC, but I really want to bring my wife home from the nursing home for Thanksgiving."

Bill's wife Margaret has been deteriorating from MS for forty years and at 62 she can no longer take care of any of her own needs. Bill is 68 and until recently he was able to take care of Margaret at home. However, her need for round the clock care made her move into a nursing home inevitable. He now visits Margaret daily, and with his own emphysema needs to use a wheelchair himself to get down the long hallway to his wife's room. As Bill talked about his wife he began to cry and said, "I feel so guilty that I can't take care of her anymore -- I just want to be able to bring her home for Thanksgiving. She keeps asking to come home, but I don't want to promise her something I can't do."

Though Bill was calling our program with a more difficult request, within an hour we were able to call him back and tell him that Margaret's holiday wish could come true. Our volunteer, Paul, would bring Margaret home on Thanksgiving morning and return her to the nursing home that evening. As excited as he was, Bill immediately began to worry, too, continuing his role as the ever loving and protective caregiver he had always been. He needed reassurance that Paul understood that his wife's delicate condition, and he needed reassurance from our staff that Paul had enough experience and reliability to carry out this task.

Paul, for his part, understood Bill's situation well. He had originally purchased the specialized van with a lift to transport his own father. Now he volunteers as a driver for IVC, helping our clients who can't transfer themselves into a regular car or van.

As Bill's voice broke, he couldn't finish his sentence, and just kept repeating, "Thank You, thank you..."