War Wounds

Daisy lives alone in a dilapidated and cluttered home in the heart of the city. I had to drive around the block 4 or 5 times to find the house. I eventually found it, just as she had told me on the phone, tucked away at the end of the rental trailer parking lot. In her living room, she had a “nest area” set up with everything she needed within arm’s reach, including a spit bucket, which I realized was for her chewing tobacco habit. Our conversation was punctuated by her spitting and the resulting splash in the bucket. When talking about her life and family, she referenced her grandson several times. Many of her life events revolved around him. It took me a few times to notice that when she talked about him she pointed  with a crooked finger to the shelf on the wall. I saw a framed yellowed newspaper article, “Milwaukee Man Clings to Life after being shot in Iraq .“ The article was leaning on the shelf in addition to several photos of a small boy with a beautiful smile. These were photos were of her grandson whom she raised. She eventually told me he was shot when serving in the Iraq war and died of his injuries. She was clearly very close to him, having a hard time accepting this loss and very much keeping his memory alive though these photos. I wondered what role he would have played in his Grandmother’s life if he had not died. Perhaps he still is giving a sense of purpose to tell people about him. While we spend time caring for these elders, it is important to recognize what gives them purpose and strength and build on it.

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it”
Gautama Buddha

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