Saturday, January 9, 2010

Funeral For A Friend

Well, I finally made it to the VA … sort of. Miranda and I loaded the cookies in the car yesterday and headed downtown, determined to do or die. You are all invited to the funeral.

Here are the VA rules as I understand them, although I will never really understand them. In order to visit anyone you must be a relative or a trained volunteer. If you are not a trained volunteer, then you must be escorted and not by just any old Joe Schmoe, mind you. The Director of Volunteer Services prefers to be the escort of choice. The Director, a very friendly man, whom I have spoken to on the phone a few times, is a lovely fellow, I am sure. The problem is, he seems to be in meetings quite often therefore making him less than flexible when it comes to escorting crazed, cookie toting, women on visits.

Trying to get a call back or a time scheduled this last week and a half has left me in quite the state of frustration. When I mentioned this to Bob, his reply was classic.

“You’re dealing with the government. What did you expect?”

What did I expect? What did I expect? I’ll tell you what I expected, buddy boy. I expected when a mother of two military officers calls the VA five freaking times and all she wants to do is deliver a bleeping cookie to a veteran, that the VA would respond in a positive and timely manner. Something like,

“Why, thank you Mrs. Hansen. We would love to have you deliver your bleeping cookies to our veterans. Of course, you do realize we will have to run them through a series of tests to make sure they are safe to eat. Oh, and there is also the strip search in order to make sure you are not hiding any contraband cookies anywhere … uh hum … else.”

The truth is, I spoke with them yesterday and explained the cookies be damned. I just wanted to visit someone that would benefit from a visit, even from a stranger. I asked if there wasn’t some part of the hospital that desperately needed visitors. The response was, yes the Hospice unit. There were eight to nine men there at any given time. Most had little to no family and rarely received visitors.

I explained that was a perfect spot for me. I have been involved with Hospice for years. I am on our local Hospice caregiver on-call list. My parents, my mother-in-law and my uncle all died with my arms wrapped around them. I get it and I am not afraid. Holding the hand of someone, especially a veteran who is dying alone, matters to me. Could I just hold a hand this afternoon?

“Sorry, not without volunteer training or the Director escorting.”

Ok, really, when did it become necessary to be trained to hold someone’s hand? I understand if you don’t want visitors. I understand if your family asks that no outside visitors be allowed. I don’t understand when a person has nobody and could use a hand holding, denying that comfort due to “lack of training or escort.” Seriously, USA, I love you and will stand by your side with my last breath and last drop of Red, White and Blue blood. But seriously??

So, maybe I failed. I failed to make an appointment. I failed to play by the rules. I failed to work within the system. I will give them that. Time to move on before I really get my rebel self in a hissy fit tizzy.

To close out this week on The List,

3. Ask your pastor if someone on your church’s sick list would like a visit.

I have spent more time in hospitals with others than I would have ever imagined. That’s how Butts and Ashes began, remember? One of the people I have had the privilege of hospital hanging with is my little sister, Kelly. She has cancer and has had a miserable time of it. I love her very much and am thankful for every moment we have spent together. She has a blog and requested that I keep it updated for her during some of those hospital seasons. We got quite crazy and I blogged it all … much to her dismay, I am sure. Here is the link to one of the posts that proves I have experience dealing with sick people. It also proves I need a shrink. Think good thoughts, say some prayers, chant some chants or whatever it is you do, for my sister. Just no voodoo dolls, please. That’s just creepy!

Oh yeah, about the cookies. Randa and I drove over to the Rescue Mission and made some little kids very happy. All's well that ends well.


Parsley said...

Well...that's government for you! Crazy. Red tape to do the simplest thing.

Hate to hear about your sis. Cancer is just such an ugly thing.

MindyBB said...

Maybe it was the I have experience with people dieing? Maybe they got a hold of your blog and remember that you told us to think twice if we wanted you to be our caregiver? LOL, I love your tenacity and I am sure those kids who recieved your kind presence and yummy cookies had their tummies and hearts warmed! Next time go buy a Nun's habit thingy and we'll go together "sister" what a hoot that would be! Oh, yes we will Thelma! BTW, my word verification is "peace" so peace to you this evening friend, sister, and likeminded thinker!

Queen-Size funny bone said...

sometimes the red taper is what discourages people in doing good

Oklahoma Granny said...

Sometimes you just have to shake your head in amazement of government rules. I'd like to suggest to the director that he get an assistant that would be available for such visits when he's not available.

I'll bet those kids were happy to see you though. Maybe, just maybe, a seed was planted in one or more of them. Maybe that was God's plan for those cookies.

Sarah said...

that's so frustrating. guess they just wanted to protect the va from crazy lunatics. at least the kids had a great time with your yummy cookies.

Unknown Mami said...

That sucks. Would you be willing to take the training.

Lily Robinson said...

It breaks my heart to think of a lonely veteran waiting to die, and some kind soul being denied the simple request of holding their hand. This, my dearfriends, is the definition of bureaucracy: administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine. Yeah, I'd say this is excessive.

Marla said...

Parsley ~ I suppose they have their reasons. I agree with your assessment of cancer. Definately ugly.

Mindy ~ Girlfriend, you seriously crack me up and that's Sister Mary Thelma to you.

Queen ~ True. I suppose sometimes you just have to work with the system instead of fighting it.

Ok Granny ~ On Friday, I spoke to his assistant who offered to take me until she was informed that the Director likes to be the one to escort. I think that was when I hit major frustration level.

Sarah ~ LOL Well, if protecting people from crazy lunatics was their goal they did a good job!

Mami ~ I thought about it. I may end up going through the City Rescue volunteer program instead. I seem to be finding myself there a lot lately.

Lily ~ That is it in a nutshell: excessive.

Rae said...

Having worked at the VA, I am familiar with their rules. They don't make sense and I have never been able to understand the rationale behind them. Holding a hand should not be so complicated.

UberGrumpy said...

We have the same nonsense in the UK. There is a small army of bureaucrats collecting forms for each person trying to actually do something.

Drives me nuts

gayle said...

I am so glad it all ended well!!

Monkey Man said...

At least you've kept your sense of humor through the vent and didn't turn it into a total resentment.

Sonya said...

What a laod of you know what to go through,only to not have it really happen...Im glad you were able to give the cookies away in the end:)

I hope you don't give up on them..maybe going through the training will get you there in the end:)

honeypiehorse said...

I dislike directors.

Auntie Cake said...

Total bummer about all the red tape you had to go through to be able to deliver a few cookies... I am sure the kids who go them appreciated them though. I wonder if the VA understands how it actually discourages people from helping others when they could use it the most? Better luck next time, don't give up! Hope your sister is doing good. I'll have to check out her blog.

Marla said...

Rae ~ Amen, sister!

UG ~ Oh, I was already nuts but it is crazy.

gayle ~ Me too :-)

Monkey Man ~ I tend to find humor in all the wrong places. It's a gift. :-)

Sonya ~ I may be a lot of things but a quitter is not one of them. I'll be back!

honeypiehorse ~ I can see why.

Kate ~ Never say never, right? :-)