Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Brother Mike's Geriatric Community

My brother, Mike, is an extraordinary man. Not only does he work full-time (shiftwork, no less), but he takes care of our dad, our uncle, our neighbor Lois, and of course Shasta, his dog.

My brother lives with our dad who is 83 and has Parkinson's Disease. He also has quite a bit of the dementia that goes along with it. He is very even tempered and pleasant to be around, but it is still quite a job taking care of him. My brother does this without complaint. I help when I can, but living 170 or so miles away makes it challenging.

Mike does all the cooking and cleaning. He makes sure dad has taken his pills (which he crushes and puts into applesauce), prepares his prunes daily and makes sure he eats them. He fixes food ahead of time and always has a couple of plates ready for dad should he get hungry while Mike is sleeping or working. He cleans dad's false teeth and glues them in for him, washes his glasses and puts compresses on his eyes every day. The list goes on and on.

Uncle John, my mom's youngest brother, is 78. Aside from a bad hip, he's in pretty good shape. He was never married, so we are his closest relatives. My brother helps him out by cutting and splitting all the wood he needs to keep his house warm. Once again, I help out when I can, but Mike is the one that does the lion's share of the work.

Mike also makes sure John has all of the amenities he needs. This year we went together and bought him a new air conditioner and a recliner. Last year we bought him a dvd player and television set. This Christmas we refurbished his bed and bedding.

Our neighbor Lois is kind and sweet. She is a beloved member of the family. Lois is 82 years young and quite spry, however, her memory isn't what it used to be and she is fairly unsteady on her feet. Mike hauls her garbage for her, brings in loads of wood, shovels her walks and mows her lawn. He serves her coffee and cookies everytime she comes over and always makes sure drinks her milk at the meals she shares with us. He usually walks her home after she comes to visit, to make certain she doesn't fall.

Mike's dog Shasta is the light of his life. Whatever Shasta wants, Shasta gets. She has a special bark for when she's hungry, when she wants her special dog treats and for when she desires to have salmon spread on top of her dinner, thank you very much. He knows what each and every bark means and dutifully provides whatever her heart desires. He loves her like she was his own child and I really love that about him.

Mike has helped my son with college tuition costs, with car repairs and most recently by helping to finance the new SUV. He fully supports my son in everything he does and bursts with pride when he hears of his accomplishments.

My brother has been of great assistance to me as well. He has helped me move more times than I can count. Nothing says "I'm there for you" like moving heavy furniture, not once, but twice in a year's time. He has given emotional and financial assistance to me whenever I have needed it.

The giving doesn't stop there. Mike donates time and money to many other charitable causes. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he donated money to help the pets that were stranded and in need of assistance. He has generously supported the Beartooth Nature Center, where Helen the Mountain Lion (pictured above) resides, for decades, donating time and money to this important local cause. Whenever a collection is being taken up for something worthy, Mike gets out the checkbook.

In short, my brother Mike is an incredible human being, and today, February 1, 2007, he is an incredible 53 year old human being.

Happy Birthday Mike.

We love you!


Anonymous said...

You just never know quite what to do for someone like that, and they always say. I don't need anything I know it's appreciated. Take that man to dinner or something!

LauraHinNJ said...

Happy birthday to your brother! He does sound like a wonderful guy.

Laurie said...

And he won't let me do anything. Although I did manage to surprise him at Christmas with a very nice flat panel monitor. Wide screen Hi-definition.

I'm going to cook him a very nice dinner next time I get up there and I have another surprise in mind, but can't say anything here because he r-e-a-d-s m-y b-l-o-g.

Laurie said...

Laura, he's truly one in a million!

Thailand Gal said...

Yes, he is an amazing person! We need more like him!



Laurie said...

He's a gem Chani...and single. Did I mention single?

Anvilcloud said...

He's a remarkable man in what sure seems to be a very nurturing family.

Laurie said...

AC, there aren't many of us, but we are very close and try to take good care of each other.

Cathy said...

Just a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. Your mom and dad must have done something very right to turn out such good kids.

Laurie said...

Cathy, Mom and Dad were excellent parents, very loving and giving. We were very fortunate.

jen said...

happy birthday, brother.

and what a lovely tribute.

Marion said...

What an amazing brother, and what a wonderful tribute to him!

Happy Birthday, Mike!

Within Without said...

What a beautiful tribute you have made to Mike...and how well deserved it is, Laurie.

He sounds like a remarkable man, putting himself before others...this is incredible.

All I can say is how inspired I am by people like him. They just make everything I might whine about regarding the human race, including myself, so inconsequential.

Because people like Mike prove just how great we can be. Thanks for letting us meet him.


Laurie said...

WW, you are right about Mike, he's an amazing human being.

Giving, to him, comes naturally. Taking, on the other hand, does not.

For Christmas I bought him a new plat panel monitor. He absolutely loved it, but I could tell he was uncomfortable receiving it.

Carol said...

You are blessed to have such a family!

Laurie said...

Carol, I am very lucky to have the family that I have. I wish everyone could be this fortunate.