‘Things That Never Die’


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Photo Credit: Carline Jean, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

This is one of my favorite photos’ from Sunday’s article in the Sun-Sentinel, ‘In Sickness and in Health’ .  This picture was taken on Richard’s 83rd birthday on January 24th of this year. The picture really captured how good Richard was feeling as we started the evening.  As Diane Lade wroteRichard ordered one of his favorite dishes, salmon. He started to eat but became increasingly quiet.”   He was able to eat some of his salmon while enjoying his club soda with lime before we abruptly had to leave. Once we got settled at home and after his pain medicine kicked in,  he was able to enjoy some of the delicious cake that we were not able to eat while at the restaurant.  I know he thoroughly enjoyed the cake, and I wanted you to know that as well! 

As I continue to listen to the CD, ‘Love Changes Everything’ from the Gateway Men’s Chorus, I am struck by the lyrics from the song ‘Things That Never Die‘ on track 13…

The Pure, The Bright, The Beautiful

That stirr’d our Hearts in Youth

The impulses to Wordless Prayer

The Dreams of Love and Truth

The Longing after something Lost

The Spirits Yearning Cry

The Striving after better Hopes -

These Things Can Never Die.

The timid Hand stretched fort to Aid

a brother in his need

The kindly Word in Griefs Dark Hour

That Proves a Friend Indeed

The Plea of Mercy softly Breath’d

when Justice threatens nigh

The Sorrows of a Contrite Heart -

These Things Shall Never Die.

Let nothing pass, for every hand

Shall find some work to do

Lose not a chance to waken Love

Be Firm, and Just, and True

So shall a Light that never Fade

Beam on thee from on High

and Angel Voices say to Thee

These Things Shall Never Die

-Dickens

The outpouring of love and support has been simply overwhelming.    ‘ The Longing After Something Lost’ has been tempered by  ‘The Kindly Words in Grief’s Dark Hour.’‘  Thank you, ‘Friends’, for expressing your love and support because, ‘These Things Shall Never Die.’ 

Don’t ever  pass up a chance to love!

TLO

 

 

 

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‘In Sickness & In Health’


 

 

 

 

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Greetings Friends,

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This past Sunday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a story on Richard and me entitledIn Sickness & In Health’…(Click here for a link to the interactive story and video.) When we were approached to do this story, Richard and I thought long and hard about the thought of having two people follow us during some of our most intimate times in our life.  Not that our story is any different from those countless number of caregivers out there, however, we  both felt that telling the story from the prospective of a LGBT couple would demonstrate that its OK to love who you love.

Now, almost three full days since the article has been published, I am overwhelmed by the support that this article has generated and felt compelled to thank Diane Lade and Carline Jean from the Sun-Sentinel for telling our story is such a beautiful way.

Since ‘TLO’ made his life transition on March 9th, I have spent quite a bit of time listening to a CD entitled “Love Changes Everything” recorded and produced while I as a member of The Gateway Men’s Chorus in 2010.  At ‘TLO’  memorial service last week in Fort Lauderdale, I used three songs in this CD as part of his celebration of life.  Things That Never Die; Rise Above The Walls; and Somewhere Over The Rainbow.  If time would have permitted, I would have also played, In Whatever Time We Have, Who Will Love Me As I Am and Webber Love Trio.  I plan to incorporate these songs into TLO’s Celebration of Life service in St. Louis on Sunday April 27.

In one of my last blog post before TLO made is life transition, ‘Approaching The Final Destination’, I wrote, “Cancer is not the winner here, Love is the winner!”  Now after reading all the comments on-line and emails that I have received, along with the many phone calls that  have come in,  I now know why I started  to listening again to the CD  from the Gateway Men’s Chorus, because “Love Change Everything!” 

Click here to read our story and see our video:

In Sickness and in Health: A Couple’s Final Journey

Photos and video by Carline Jean

Story by Diane C. Lade

cjmrjoYou see…We might of had Cancer, but Cancer never ever had us…we had love!

 

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Love Is The Winner


<3 <3 LOVE IS THE WINNER <3 <3
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
<3 I LOVE YOU <3

By Mary MacLellan-Stough

Three magical words that make a heart flutter.
Will make someone’s heart melt like butter
Just hearing those words uttered.
Life is full of ups and downs
And at times the see-saw seems weighed down.
Then someone comes along and touches your heart and soul
and takes your breath away.
When you wish upon a star
Your loved one isn’t very far.
They are closer to us than you will ever know-
Tossing pennies from a far
Letting us know how loved we are.
The hugs we feel when no one else is near
The dimes, the parking places we find
Remind us we are not alone as we fear.
Those hugs we feel, they are real,
The soft whispers in our ear
Next thing we know we shed a tear.
The world keeps moving-life goes on
But we keep trying to be strong.
The signs are there, we just need to be still,
Then there is a yellow butterfly, which gives you a chill.
They come when we least expect them, but need them the most.
The timing is never right when a loved one departs
But their physical journey here is over, time to start a-new
In a place that is all brand new.
No pain, no suffering-all sorrow is gone
Replaced with happiness and a glow
That one day we all will know.
Imagine the reception when we arrive
Our loved one(s) will be there to greet us home.
We are never alone on this journey here on earth.
Richard is up there watching over you Chris.
“Put in a good word, tell everyone hello.”
Until we meet again TLO <3 <3 <3
With Love to you from me
Your younger sister I will always be…Meo

Mary

Mary MacLellan-Stough

 

This poem was beautifully written by my sister, Mary MacLellan-Stough and will appear on the back folder of our  Celebration of Bernard Richard Schiffer life in both Fort Lauderdale and St. Louis

 

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Celebrating The Life of Bernard Richard Schiffer


Loss wouldn’t hurt so much if we didn’t love so much.  But who wants to live without love?  ~ Loren Olsen, Ph.D.

We will be celebrating the life of Bernard Richard Schiffer in South Florida on April 9th from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Kraeer-Fairchild Funeral Home, 4061 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 and then in St. Louis, MO on Sunday April 27th from, 2pm ~ 4pm Christ Lutheran Church, 1 Selma Avenue Webster Groves, MO 63119.  In lieu of flowers,  and to support advocacy for LGBT Seniors, your kind donation to SunServe Silver Serve Program is appreciated:  2312 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL 33305

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Bernard Richard Schiffer 2010

Bernard Richard Schiffer 83, of Deerfield Beach, Florida made his life transition under the wonderful care of Gold Coast Inpatient Hospice on March 9, 2014.  Bernard is survived by his domestic partner, Christopher MacLellan, his In-Laws Bernice Schiffer; JoAnne, Merrille (George), Mary, Jim (Pat), Gerri MacLellan. Niece Elyse (Philip), nephew Scott, along with an abundance of great nieces, nephews and cousins.  Bernard would specifically like to recognize his great nieces Leah and Rachael, who knew him as ‘Their Funny Uncle!”

Bernard is preceded in death by his parents, Sophie and Saul, brothers Donald, Roy and Franklin.

Bernard grew up in Brooklyn, New York and has lived in Manhattan, Deerfield Beach, FL and St. Louis, MO.   Bernard loved opera, ballet, theater and classical music.

 

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Everlasting Love: TLO Is At Rest And At Peace


Love is the beauty of the soul ~ Saint Augustine

Bernard Richard Schiffer January 24, 1931 ~ March 9, 2014

Sophia Looking Gay

LilyThe house is quiet; so different, so empty. The beautiful aroma of the stargazer lilies fills the house as one by one, they bloom in their mystical way. Just as the lilies transition from a small bud to a beautiful flower; TLO’s transition into eternal life was just as mystical, and just as beautiful.  Holding him in my arms as he took his last breath on Sunday, March 9th at 1:20 pm was surely a  paradoxical honor, however we would not have had it any other way.

Our Caregiving journey ended on Sunday, March 9, yet this is not the end ofSchiffer blend our love, we just get the chance to know and love each other in a different way.  Words can’t describe how I feel at this moment, but I take comfort in knowing that he is pain-free and he left this world with a beautiful smile on his face.  When I placed his head back down on the pillow after his last breath, I knew that he was in a better place;  no stress, no strife, no agony, only peace.  I’m sure my faith will grant me those same gifts in the months ahead.

We have been on this Caregiving journey for over two years now, yet it seems like yesterday when I wrote my first post on ‘The Purple Jacket.”   Writing proved to be therapeutic for both of us, however, it is strange to realize  that the only two posts that we will never get to share with each other is this post and the post from last week, Approaching The Final Destination.  I do take comfort in knowing that TLO enjoyed reading about our Caregiving journey as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

The comfort and love I have felt from family and friends over the past week has been heartfelt.  May it continue. While on this Caregiving journey, so many people have touched our lives along they way.  I am so Caregiving_Logo_Small1grateful for all   your words of encouragement. Denise Brown from Caregiving.com and her vast network of Caregivers who have been our extended family during our journey, are friends for life.  Even in the midst of the intensity of daily Caregiving, Denise and our extended family have been there at a moment’s notice to extend comfort.  Word’s can’t describe how wonderful TLO’s primary care physician, Dr. Milica Starcevic of Broward Health, has been to us during our time in her care.   Dr. Starcevic’s genuine care and concern for us will always have a special place in my heart.  It goes without saying how wonderful the entire staff at Gold Coast Hospice treated us as well.  The word that comes directly to mind when thinking about the staff at Gold Coast Hospice is ‘authentic.’  There was not one staff member who walked into our room who was not authentic in their care for both of us.  Like ministry, working in Hospice is a special calling, not everyone can do it, but the staff that we met from the administrator down, was just splendid.  We never had a worry or concern, the entire Hospice staff honored us and our relationship.

For me, life does move on, just in a different way.  As much as the two of us talked about ‘this day,’ one can never prepare for an experience like this.  He is forever in my heart, sealed with that lasting smile he left for20120407-001829.jpg me when he made his transition.  One thing that TLO asked, well…demanded…is that I start to take better care of myself.  That is my immediate intention, to create some  ‘healing ties’ so that I can become  stronger mentally and to get physically fit because on Monday, March 10th I haven’t only started a new chapter in my life, I started a new Caregiving journey as well.  That new journey is to be a Caregiver for myself.   Many caregivers have this trait where we put our needs second to the needs of our Caree.  It is easy to say we are going to take better care of ourselves, but harder to do when you’re in the midst of Caregiving.  My advocacy in the days, months and years ahead will focus on the importance of Caregivers taking better care of themselves because it is important not only for the Caregiver, but important for the Caree as well.  If I can learn to be half the caregiver to myself as I was to TLO, I think I’ll be in pretty good shape.  Following this path allows me to be with him while honoring his wishes for me to take better care of myself:  It’s a ‘win/win’ don’t you think?

As I write this final Caregiving post on ‘The Purple Jacket”, I do not have any fancy words to share or meaningful slogans to portray, I just want to tell you about a story of love.  Two people connecting from different sides of the religious aisle, making a go at life, while forming a meaningful relationship that even to this day,  is difficult to describe.  TLO might have been slight in stature, but he stood tall in life.  With few regrets and quite a bit of joy, TLO lived his life his way. I have learned so much about being strong from him. He was and still is my best friend, pal and partner. My Caregiving cape wanted to fix everything inside of his body; eleven years just whisked by within one week in hospice with me asking that final day…”Lord, can’t I have just one more hour, one more minute to know him..to love him?”   As I gently laid his head back on the pillow after he made his transition, I was comforted to see a smile on his face.  I knew he was pain TLOCJMfree and I knew that he left this world in love and yes, he did beat Cancer!

In the weeks ahead, there will be a few announcements on ‘The Purple Jacket’ about special events that are in the works to celebrate the life of Bernard Richard Schiffer.  Our Caregiving journey has been documented over the past seven months with reporters from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; filled with video and pictures of the two of us,  we look forward to sharing that article with you when published is just a few short weeks.   I will be writing again in the months ahead, but this space here on ‘The Purple Jacket’ is reserved for my best friend, pal and life partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer for without him, there would be no ‘Purple Jacket!’

But for now,  I must take a breath and get some rest.

   You seeWe Might Have Had Cancer: But Cancer NEVER had us.  The thing we have is Love and come to think about it, Love is the most important gift of all!

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Approaching The Final Destination


I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love ~ Mother Teresa

With TLO’s recent diagnosis that his cancer has spread to multiple parts of his body,  I have to admit this news, along with intense Caregiving over the past month, has put me in a position where I have hit the wall with LifeChangesblogging. While  I’ve learned over the past two years  that writing about TLO’s bout with esophageal cancer has provided a great deal of comfort for both of us, I now find it interesting that writing about the end stages of our Caregiving journey to be a tad more difficult. 

And that is precisely where we are at in our Caregiving journey, we are at the end stages.

TLO was admitted to Gold Coast Hospice as an inpatient  on Monday, March 3rd.  We are in a small 8 unit facility under the umbrella of Broward Health. With the mindset that we were going to inpatient care Hospice-1‘just for a few days for an evaluation and re-set of his medications;”  we have since learned that God and TOL’s body had other plans.

 The last thing he said to me on Monday night was…”Please go home and get some rest, I will be OK here and we’ll see each other in the morning.”  Relucatantly I agreed with him and headed home.  Now knowing that this is going to be our  last lucid conversation we have on this journey is fitting for in  his time of strife, his  concern and love for me was first and foremost in his mind. We tend to share that similar trait when caring for each other.

TLO has been resting comfortably in our hospice suite since Tuesday; in and out of consciousness, his little body is ravished by cancer.   “We don’t know how this man has lived so long with the amount of cancer that is 1385583_607513719290066_905165614_n (1)inside of him,” the hospice doctor said to me Friday. “It is only by the grace of God and the love that the two of you have that has kept this man alive.” The Doctor’s words are comforting because it has taken me a few days to get beyond the quick transition from our Monday evening conversation, to finding him resting peacefully since my arrival on Tuesday morning. I suspect that he needed that time alone on Monday night moving into Tuesday morning, so that he could rest and prepare for his journey.   

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TLO with my sister Sissy, Feb 11, 2014

While in the midst of Caregiving, we often lose sight of what is transpiring right in front of us because we are so intent on service and care. Trips for radiation become routine because that is something that is just a part of our day?  With one of my sisters here helping us for the past month, I’ve come to realize that what I might think is a routine day, is totally off the charts by normal standards. I’m sure most family caregivers can get in touch with that. 

“If you could look inside his body you would understand what is going on inside of him” was another comment the hospice doctor said to me on Friday.  This ‘trip’ has been hard for me to accept because I am so used to him just getting up and continuing on.  He is such a fighter! Yet this ‘trip ‘ is just a little bit different because he has acknowledged that he is tried, he has acknowledged that he is ready and from our previous conversations,  he knows that I am going to be safe.  So in just a few short hours, I have had to learn how to separate my emotions from the reality that we face; TLO was able to do that after I left on Monday night. In fact, he had prepared for this day longer than I have ever realized.

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Chris and TLO at SunServe’s Hat and Garden Party 2013

I have had to put into perspective that this journey just did not start on Monday of this week, this journey started over three years ago in a little Greek restaurant in Indianapolis when there was the first indication that something might be wrong with his throat.  Through all the tests and tribulations of the last three years, not to mention the original diagnosis of 3 to 4 months to live in 2011, I’d say we have had a pretty darn good run at it.  Up until recently, we have had more good days and bad, and along the way on this journey, we have met so many wonderful friends from around the world who simply ask…”How’s TLO”.  The Caregiving community is so vast, so strong and so very comforting;  Where would we have been without you!

TLO is just mighty fine my friends!  He is resting peacefully, and we have been able to communicate through touch and some words.  He now gets to run the show and call the shots. Actually, he’s been doing that for quite some time, I’ve just been here proud to be along for the ride.  Right now I just want to be his partner, holding him close, caressing and kissing him while telling him that I love him with an everlasting love.  His squeeze of my hand gives me strength and helps take my sadness away.

You seeCancer is not winning here.  Love is winning here.

The Bow Tie Guys

 

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Coffee With A Caregiver


Coffee shared with our Caregiving family is happiness tasted and time well spent.

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#CoffeeWithACaregiver

Thursday’s are usually held for  “Hug A Caregiver‘ day, however, there is something exciting trending on the internet which was started by two of my Caregiving friends, G-J and Kathy who  I have met through Denise Brown’s wonderful siteCaregiving.com .  G-J was looking for another way to support Kathy, so she shared a photo with a cup of coffee, a cookie and a note of encouragement, Kathy returned the favor and before you know it, our friend Trish created the hashtag #CoffeeWithACaregiver.  We’ve been exchanging virtual coffee greetings for the past week or so: Because of the challenging Caregiving week I had had with TLO,  I can’t tell you how much I have looked forward to #CoffeeWithACaregiver each day.  The daily support from #CoffeeWithACaregiver is very special, and very meaningful.

#CoffeeWithACaregiver is another great example of how Caregivers have this innate ability to understand and support each other even when the Caregiving journey’s are different.  No matter what your Caregiving journey might be, finding support and comfort, in any form, is healthy and important to ones own personal health and well-being.  I know that I would not have been able to get through all the challenging Caregiving days without my extended Caregiving family I have found through ‘The Purple Jacket’ and Caregiving.com 

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#CoffeeWithACaregiver 10:00am Friday Feb 14

On Friday, February 14, share the love with fellow family caregivers. Join all of us for a virtual cup of coffee and share the love of care. Simply use the hashtag #CoffeeWithACaregiver and share it across your Social Networks, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.  We’ll start posting at 10:00am, but feel free to post anytime of the day.  We will all be sharing across our networks; it is not only going to be quite a bit of fun, you’ll see the love and support Caregivers have for each other right before your very eyes!

If you are  a Caregiver  and looking for a soothing place to share your story, join us on Caregiving.com.  Denise Brown has created a soothing community of family Caregivers where we are all one, big, supportive,  Caregiving family!

 

The  Purple Jacket Highly recommends

The Purple Jacket Highly recommends Denise Brown at the extended family at Caregiving.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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