Tracy K. Lorenz / Taking Care

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The Dunes

I was lucky enough to grow up with 700 acres of dune land in my backyard. “The dunes” abutted Lake Michigan and were/are about as pretty a place as you’ll find on earth. The best part was they were empty, no houses, no people, just peacefulness as far as the eye could see. The dunes were also the place where Snowboarding was invented, how many people can say they grew up where an Olympic sport was conceived?

I mention this because the county is now trying to buy the property and turn it into a public park. I’m kind of torn because those dunes were like Mecca to my friends and I. I hate to see it wrecked by progress; there’s simply no way they can make it “better.”

The beauty of the dunes was they were good all year round. In the summer you built forts and hung out on the beach, in the fall you had acorn fights, the winter was sledding (although we called it sliding), and in the spring, well, you pretty much just walked around.

But to me winter was the best. Summer was a blast but, surprisingly, dunes are really hot. To this day I don’t go barefoot because if you grew up in the dunes you had to wear shoes or your feet would burn off and your legs would look like two lit cigarettes. Then again, a lot of really good athletes came out of my neighborhood because when you spend your days running up and down sand dunes it tends to strengthen the ol’ hammies.

But back to winter.

Here was a typical winter’s day: I’d get done with my paper route, go home and woof down some food, then go outside and round up my friends The Schabby and Crandal and hit the hills. We’d stay up there until our wool mittens were rendered useless. To tell you the truth we didn’t even slide that much, we mostly just walked around look
ing for the perfect hill. The trouble with sledding in the dunes is once you went down you had to climb back up so you didn’t want to make any unnecessary trips.

But it wasn’t about the sliding anyway, it was just about being outdoors with your friends, outdoors in a vast wilderness in total and complete silence. There’s quiet, and then there’s snow covered dunes quiet, like outer space with a lake.

So I guess we’ll see what happens with turning the place into a park. I’ve always said that when I die I’d like my ashes sprinkled up there. (Actually, I’d rather have them take my body into the dunes and send it through a wood chipper so I could return to the earth and feed some animals, seriously, but apparently there may be legal issues with that.) But now if they’re going to make it into a park I’m not so sure that would be a good place for ashes, there might be RV’s and stuff.

It’s funny how in life you think there are constants, things that will just never change, places you can return to and get younger. I know it’s selfish but hey, I’m selfish, I’d just as soon the place stayed exactly like it is until my hourglass runs out of ... sand.



Printed by permission of the author. Email him at Lorenzatlarge@aol.com.
Get Tracy’s latest book at BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com, or  download it from www.fastpencil.com.
Only $3.99, cheap.
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Taking Care

By Emmanuel Hospice

Where does your spiritual TripTik take you?

Couples spend decades doing everything together until declining health prompts a move into an assisted living facility. They take turns caring for one another as their health ebbs and they prepare for their final journeys.

As a spiritual caregiver for Emmanuel Hospice, Pastor Vern Bareman regularly visits couples in this situation. His conversations with spouses of patients who have recently died can swing from profound grief to gratitude that the struggles have ended.

“Some of our patients are ready to go, while others are fighting to hang on to life,” Bareman says. “Coming to terms with letting go can be hard for both patients and their families.”

Sometimes our understanding of the afterlife can offer a tremendous sense of peace and grace during a difficult time.

“A person’s faith is a place where they can go to not feel so alone,” Bareman says. “Everyone has something that brings them meaning in life. The reflection of one’s own purpose within their personal world view can bring on a sense of a companionship and love at the end.”

There’s a big difference, Bareman notes, between being religious and being spiritual. He contends that all of us are spiritual beings, even if we may not ascribe to a particular religion.

Emmanuel Hospice’s spiritual care team counsels people of diverse faiths to help patients and their families find solace and strength in their individual faith traditions. Bareman sees it as his responsibility to meet people wherever they are on their individual spiritual journeys as they are facing the end of life.

“All of us have a spiritual TripTik,” Bareman says. “We all have some kind of understanding of where we started and where we are going to end, but each of us takes a different path for our journey.

“My role as a spiritual caregiver is not to take my spiritual TripTik and put it over yours. Mine is to follow a person through his or her own journey. We all find a sense of peace and comfort in different places.”

Bareman often begins the conversation with a new hospice patient by doing an assessment of where they are spiritually. He will ask: Where do you go to find strength outside yourself? What are the things you do to find that strength that you cannot pull from yourself? The answers are as individual as the patient. It might be music for one, attending church for another, meeting friends or any variety of things.

“At Emmanuel Hospice, we honor everyone’s faith journey – whatever that may be and wherever they are on that journey,” Bareman says. “It’s a very patient-centered approach.”

Bareman also asks new patients a question that many families find surprising: How do you want to live? It’s a misconception, he says, that hospice is all about dying. At Emmanuel Hospice, the care team works with families to enhance the quality of life and ensure every moment is meaningful.

The next step, Bareman says, is working with the patient to determine what kinds of things bring them joy – and then finding ways to connect them with the things that make them smile and laugh. That might be a special dinner with family, a trip to a favorite fishing hole or afternoons filled with music.

“Even as we approach the end of life, we need to have things that keep us looking forward and anticipating,” Bareman says. “At the end of life, you can’t look to the future without embracing the past.

“Where we’ve been is an important aspect of where we’re going. On our life journey, our TripTik keeps going until we turn the final page – then we’re finally home.”

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