86 year old Michael is both a handsome and pleasant gentleman. His cancer has recently spread throughout his body and it seems there is little that can be done. He officially retired 30 years ago in Buffalo, New York where is originally from. He and his wife of 40 years have been vacationing in Myrtle Beach on and off and eventually moved there.
His sweet wife passed away earlier this year from complications of Alzheimer’s with Michael at her side. He is very independant and strong. Over the years he served as a Corporal in the Marines, has been a paramedic, a fireman and built 2 of his own homes by himself.
He has 1 son and 2 daughters one of which lives in California and the other 2 children remain in Buffalo. He has 8 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
With his health now failing him, his children want to bring him back home to be near to them.
As we touch down in Myrtle Beach it is a balmy 66 degrees (which feels wonderful to us having left Indy at about 28 degrees) the sun is bright and you can smell the ocean in the air. We couldn’t resist stopping for a moment to take it all in.
Once we get to the hospital we meet Michael and he is more than ready to make the trip back to Buffalo.
During our flight he requested music from the 50’s which we were more than happy to provide for him. He told us that he would probably sleep once we took off and he did for a short time. He shared with us how he had learned a lot from his father and how thankful he was for that. He also told us that he was looking forward to going to the facility we were taking him to in Buffalo.
It is in fact the same hospice facility and staff who cared for his late wife. They took wonderful care of her and he is confident that they would do the same for him.
As we flew and he drifted off to sleep (at least his eyes were closed) every now and again as I watched him his head would bop to the beat of the music as it played. At times the music had a jazzy sound with drums and cymbals playing and I watched as his fingers would keep time with the song. If I had to guess, at that moment he had gone back in time to an era when things were quite different. I could almost imagine him as a young man on the dance floor laughing, dancing and twirling around with a young lady and not a care in the world.
All too quickly our flight has ended as we have reached our destination of Buffalo. Oh my, quite a change in the weather the skies are grey, the temperatures very cold and the wind blustery. There is still evidence of a significant snowfall from recent, with many piles of the now dirty snow piled 4-5 feet high in places. Michael however is used to it as this has been home to him his whole life.
His son Mike is at the airport to meet us and he hops into the back of the ambulance to say hello to his father, saying, “I love you pop and I will see you soon.”
When we arrive at the hospice facility his daughter from California and her son are waiting.
They are very excited to see Michael. We all ride up in the elevator together to his room.
We placed him into bed and we all joined in prayer. The hospice nurse will not see him until the next morning and he is looking forward to her visit.
There is definitely a sense of peace about him as I leaned over to kiss his forehead.
YOU MAKE KNOWN TO ME THE PATH OF LIFE; YOU WILL FILL ME WITH JOY IN YOUR PRESENCE, WITH ETERNAL PLEASURES AT YOUR RIGHT HAND.
As we left Buffalo that evening God had cleared the skies allowing us the opportunity to fly over the spectacular Niagara Falls. The view of this magnificent sight was nothing less than breathtaking.
Witnessing firsthand His mighty works reminding us all that He alone is in control of all things no matter how great or small. To think that He alone created this beauty with merely a spoken word.
A Plane Fun Fact:
Niagara Falls (only 17 miles NW of Buffalo) is made up of 3 waterfalls from largest to smallest being the Horseshoe Falls mainly on the Canadian side and the American and Bridal Veil Falls along the American side.
Draining Lake Erie and Lake Ontario the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world that has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet. It is estimated that over the last 12,300 years the Falls have eroded over (11.4 km) 7 miles. WOW !!
Thank you to Hal, Jason and Don for sharing this mission with me.
Shelli Engle RN