Paul's Passing Thoughts

My Nurse Aide Flag is at Half Staff for Jane Doe, Not John Lewis

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 19, 2020

24273584_1148800408585892_1473850469409031960_o“There is no more prejudice in anything than prejudice in death.” 

I don’t wish death on anyone. Even though there are many politicians I wish would shut up because their agenda is more important than truth, I don’t wish death on them for that purpose. According to the Bible, death is God’s enemy. The Bible also says to be careful not to celebrate the demise of your enemies.

With that said, I am not much for making a big deal out of the passing of political hacks like Congressman John Lewis. For that matter, I am not much for making a big deal out of the passing of any high profile person; as a nurse aide, I see that as a little strange.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there should be some recognition along with honoring them by remembering the good about their life, which is always embellished with sanctified boldfaced lying, but let’s be honest, going overboard on the effort rarely accomplishes anything beneficial. For example, there was much ado about the passing of Ronald Reagan, but yet, less than 16 years later, everything that made him a successful president is all but forgotten and half of the country is on fire.

Today, flags will be at half staff for Congressman John Lewis who never wanted to declare success for his involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. While being deemed a hero for that, his present claim to fame was being a warrior for civil rights in our present day because supposedly, America is more racist than it has ever been. That’s strange. Furthermore, all of these heroes live in overt wealth in our systemic racist system, which is also strange.

Here is another thing that is strange: all of this ado for the rich and famous from the eyes of a nurse aide who sees the passing of extraordinary people with little or no recognition at all. There is no more prejudice in anything than prejudice in death. The prejudice in nursing facilities wasn’t too abhorrent until COVID-19. In that, the rich and famous in general, and the politicians in particular, have gone full throttle on dishonoring the passing of the common folk.

Before COVID-19 and subsequent extreme staff shortages in nursing homes as well as inadequate means to handle the pandemic, facility staff made sure a resident’s passing was dignified. Special procedures were in place to facilitate the gathering and serving of the family, etc. For those residents who died without anyone in their lives but the aides and nurses, there was always some special recognition prepared, and some tears expended by the staff that loved them.

Presently, due to out of touch politicians like John Lewis, not so much. Before a couple of months ago, I saw prejudice in death as one of those strange little deals in life that we don’t think about much, but I had an experience that changed all of that.

I was walking alone down a hall in a very large facility a couple of months ago, and a gentleman disrupted the eeriness of the silence by coming out of a room and ambushing me with a request: “Hey, I am doing a pickup and this lady’s roommate is getting upset, can you give me a hand?” As I looked in, his gurney was crowded into the room by a bed occupied by an elderly lady who was obviously deceased. No nurses or aides were anywhere in sight. The following thought entered my mind: “This lady is being picked up like a UPS package.” Then I thought: “Thank goodness for her upset roommate, maybe we will have some sort of departing ceremony.”

The roommate on the other side of the curtain was unable to get out of bed by herself, and was pleading for help to say goodbye to her friend. The whole room was crowded and I barely had enough room to squeeze her wheelchair in-between her bed, the curtain, and the gurney on the other side. The gentleman from the funeral home agreed to wait for me to get her out of bed. I wheeled her around, and she wept and stroked her friend’s hair, and kissed her cheek. I assured her that she had been a good friend, and put her back to bed. She would be alone in her grief.

I then stepped into the empty hallway and watched my Jane Doe being wheeled away. I failed to check the name on the door, if there was one, and I regret that. But yet, I stood there wondering who this women was, and wondered about her life. What did she do for a living? Did she have children? How special and great was she?

I am different now. EVERYTIME, every single time, I hear about someone famous dying, my mind sees Jane Doe being wheeled down that hallway. In my mind, it seems that I remember the hallway being dark, but it would seem the hallway lights would have been on. I see the whole scene with me standing behind myself, I am just standing there, watching the gentleman push her covered body down the hallway, and asking myself all those questions.

So, once again someone important has died. Once again, much ado will be made. Once again, flags will be flown at half staff. And again, without fail, I will wonder about her, and my imagination will suggest that she is some amazing forgotten person, and once again…

…the flag of my mind flies at half staff  in her honor.


One Response

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  1. April said, on July 19, 2020 at 11:36 PM

    I’m standing and flicking my imaginary Bic!
    Thank you for sharing this!


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