A HAPPY MAN—Harry’s Story
By Sydney Gay
Eight doctors studied the MRI of Harry’s brain, large black areas indicated irreversible damage, “In his condition brain exercises won’t help much, your husband is on his last battery, make him as comfortable as possible.”
Who would have guessed a gas leaf blower could do this much damage, the dust that entered his lungs was a combination of common street debris, construction particles including metals, insecticide residue and animal feces. I researched what the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had to say, www.EPA-Health Hazards of Leaf Blowers-www.progressivesource.org/..health_hazards.html/smoke, soot, dust, salt, acids, metals (CA EPA Air Resources Board 2009). About 5 lbs of particulate matter per leaf blower per hour airborne up to four hours, a major issue for communities banning blowers, in Beverly Hills, California a $1,000 fine.
Harry returned to Alicia’s nursing home in a sad condition, he could not walk, he could not sit or rise off a chair, he did not talk, his body was painfully swollen. Doctors prescribed so many different pills I asked Alicia if we could reduce the medications, slowly we did that. After seventy per cent of the meds were eliminated his eyes brightened, the swelling disappeared, Harry’s energy and good humor returned, he began talking again, he was still frail, he lacked concentration but he was lucid. I remembered something Einstein said about the human mind, on average most humans use less than fourteen percent of brain capacity, I assumed the other eighty-six percent had a purpose.
I am not the brightest flower on the block, I don’t know how I did what I did next, I asked Harry if he would be willing to study the MRI x-rays of his brain; he said yes, I took out the photos, 146 different images, I explained the damaged parts, then pointed to the undamaged parts, “Harry, this part of your brain is still good, can you find that place in your head?” I touched his skull, “Tell this good part to connect over here to this other part of your brain.” Clearly he was processing. “Were you able to do it?” He said yes. I doubted he was telling the truth. The blackened areas were really wide spread; nevertheless, holding the x-rays up again, pointing to the worst area I made a line to an unblemished section, “Go from here to there Harry.” He seemed to understand.
Part of me knows you might not believe it. Even so I am obligated to explain what happened after this. Harry’s mind improved, it quickly improved. Everyone at the nursing home witnessed it. Within a few days I was able to open Webster’s Dictionary and ask him to spell words; he loved the game, he could not yet read the words, but he spelled without error, wanting more I asked for definitions, he got these correct as well.
Visitors who had never met him found Harry to be a remarkably interesting conversationalist, he glowed with love and laughter. Since all the doctors said he did not have much time left, I began taking notes. Here are four short recorded conversations.
June 2007 / (Me And Him) Harry: I’m not sure how I got here, what happened to us? Have we become different people? I think I am falling in love again. / Sydney: You like your life here? / Harry: Are you kidding, I’m almost a hundred years old. / Sydney: You’re not really a hundred. You’re seventy-nine. Goethe did his best work at eight-four. Do you think your work is finished?/Harry: No way!
August 2007 / My name is Harry Kislevitz, I am sitting next to Birds of Paradise, see over there, we have roses and orchids, children visit me here, I love children. They say I have a brain problem, but I’m happy, I have a room next to the rose garden, I love it and I love children, Did I already mention that? Let me give you some advice, one father can take care of ten children, ten children cannot take care of one father.
September 2007 / Sydney: Do you have anything more you want to do? / Harry: Are you kidding? I have to straighten up all the stuff in all the different rooms. / Sydney: What do you see when you look into this room? / Harry: I see them. / Sydney: Who? / Harry: The Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boys.
The exercises which began in 2005 increased. By the end of 2007 I asked if he would like to try writing something, he took a red marker and as a laughter I wish to keep forever I framed what he wrote: “Sydney, your eyes are deep brown and your nose matches, you must admit that’s an interesting characteristic. Your mouth is like a succulent plum, your ears are like an elephant. I love your hair. The best part is your character. You’re a real character. I love you a bunch. Harry.”
September 2008, Harry had improved greatly. Alicia moved him from the nursing home for seriously injured to a more semi-independent home. One morning I walked into his room, he was laying on the bed smiling ear to ear, “Harry, what’s going on?” He says, “I’m talking to God.”
I ask, “What is God saying to you?” He replies, “Hello Harry darling, how are you doing?”
Before Harry passed away in 2009 he said this, “You know about the frogs that fell into a bowl of cream? You know that story? One frog struggled to get out of the bowl, it beat itself into exhaustion and drowned. The other frog laid back and paddled around, swimming up and down, enjoying himself, didn’t worry about a thing, gradually the cream turned into a hill of butter, the frog climbed the hill and hopped on the kitchen table, the cook picked up the frog and dropped it into a pot of soup, as the soup warmed up the frog got sleepier and sleepier, he didn’t even know he was being cooked. …Nice to see you Okay, I gotta go now.”
On the day of Harry’s death he was sitting peacefully in a chair at Alicia’s, a soft golden light encircled his body, slowly the light moved outward, then it spiraled upward, I could feel he was leaving the body, he lowered his head and said “Bye, Sydney.” I said goodbye to Harry.
Note: Harry did not attend church, but he was a true student of Christ. He deeply felt the spirit Christ could be invited to live within an ordinary human heart. In my own work, spending quality time with men and women in the last stages of life, I am convinced spiritual knowledge quells fear and increases creativity and happiness.