Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Friday, November 26, 2004

My 'Friend' From the Ukraine

Nataliya is not only my friend, she is the sister I always wanted and finally had a chance to have. I had an older sister, Mary Beth, whom I loved with all my heart, but she had Down's syndrome and lived away from home. She was also deaf, moreso than myself. She made me learn sign language. She died 3 years ago. She taught me a lot, but there still was a part missing.

My mom became very sick over 4 years ago. She had been sick over 8 years, but it got worse, (details aren't really necessary, let it suffice to say 2 more major strokes and 3 hip fractures). Her and my dad had to live with my brother or me. We didn't realize the permanency of the problem at first, so they lived with my brother, as his wife is a nurse and his house is spacious, and a ranch.

As things went from bad to worse, they moved in with me, they were more comfortable with me, though my brother and sister-in-law were very willing to let them remain. Regardless of room, my mom was not going to get better. In order to live in my house, we needed 24 hour nursing. It really was too much for my SIL, she needed to work and still had a child in middle school.

Enter Nataliya. She was an MD, in the Ukraine, with specialty in microbiological diseases. In the US she was happy to work as a caretaker. She had followed her sister, who was a theology student. We found Nataliya who was willing to take over all care, rather than 3 people, the only caveat being that on Sundays, from 11-5, someone would have to take care of my mom, for those were her 'off hours.' Myself and my three children learned a lot about taking care of someone in their last days. We are better people because of it.

Our relationship began in June, 2001. That summer I was gone for 5 weeks. When I returned, my mom was not in as good a place, but still feisty. Nataliya worked hard at making me understand the differences from when I left and when I returned.

School started, then came 9/11. I came home that day to find my mom holding Nataliya, rocking her like a child, saying, "Don't you worry, we'll get those sons of bit****". Nataliya's first thoughts were how Putin would hurt US. She had no use for him. Her feelings were he was KGB, I tried to reassure her, based on what we had seen from him and GW. My mom was the one who made Nataliya see the differences from what had gone before. They became very close.

The following summer, my mom had another stroke, she was also down to 68 lbs. She was trying to leave the house constantly, nursing home care became the only alternative. She was there nearly a year before she went to a better place. Nataliya had to return to the Ukraine, her mother-in-law was very sick, needing her help. She too has passed, and we are praying that Nataliya, her husband, and child will be allowed to emigrate.

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