Monday, December 04, 2006

Miles

The memory I cherish is Miles smiling broadly (with his brand new teeth that he'd been given that very week) and waving in recognition as we shouted his name from the sidelines of the Gay Pride Parade just two short years ago. He was finally leaving Omega House after more than a year of residency, leaving healthy -- a rare feat at a hospice -- and had been asked to ride in the car that served as the organization's parade entry. He had the "homecoming queen" wave down pat by the time he got to us. We all beamed.

Miles was self-care for most of my acquaintance with him. We love "self-care". No diapers, no baths or showers to assist with, actual conversation with coherent points connecting A to Z -- that's self-care. Usually, all we provided was a cup half filled with coffee and half filled with Ensure, a nutritional supplement that gave him a mocha lift with his cigarette.

Miles wasn't supposed to live at Omega House -- in the sense that he pretty much set up residency and everyone tended to look the other way when he continued to improve and his stay extended waaaaaaay beyond the six months usually allotted for folks who come our way. He had a shelf of bric-a-brac and plants that defied the decorator's impersonal lavish designs for the rooms. He had his cigarettes. He was home.

We almost felt a friend was moving away as we waved at Miles in the parade. I remember tearing up.

About a year later, Miles returned to us. The streets and poor choices had him back to the poor health that needs continued monitoring. I kept waiting for the famous "Miles comeback tour" to begin again. It didn't.

Miles died this past weekend. His body was truly skin and bones (in this case, I'm not using hyperbole). He'd long since stopped wearing the teeth. When I was last there, he didn't even make it to the patio for one of his beloved cigarettes.

But I'll not remember that Miles. My Miles is waving, smiling and waving, and this parade has no end.

5 comments:

sheri said...

Hi KC....I don't know you and it's very strange that I happened upon your blog totally by accident today. Your entry today immediately caught my eye. I live in Houston and was a volunteer at Omega House for 12 years, I don't believe I ever met you. Maybe you know some of my partners....we were a Thursday night team. I was there with Miles his first go around and coincidently had stopped in with another volunteer, Rick, to visit Pam (the nurse)just a few months ago, and there was Miles again. I'm crushed to read that he died. I will remember the same Miles that you describe. I'll have a moment of silence for him and all of the hundreds of others that I helped care for in 12 years. It could have been months before I found out about Miles if I had not happened upon your blog by accident. um, makes me think it wasn't an accident! Thanks for honoring him today. Sheri

Anonymous said...

Karen - Thank you for the eloquent update about Miles. I'm so grateful he made it home to Omega House for his transition. Although it is impossible to play favorites with Omega House residents, he is high on my list. I will miss him. Vance N.

Anonymous said...

Karen, You have expressed the feeling of many of the volunteers and staff at Bering Omega. He holds many records at Omega House that probably wont be soon broken. Longest stay, most often discharged for improvement, greatest number of admissions, hospice patient to get new teeth, & ride in our parade to name a few. But the greatest record is the number of peoples lives he touch with his smile and fun loving way. He'll not be soon forgotten. Sandy Stacy

Anonymous said...

Miles was a precious person and I will miss him very much. I would sit with him on the patio, we would talk while he smoked.

The night he passed away I went to his room and sat on his bed. I felt his presence, very serene and peaceful.

He reached the stars. Goodnight Miles.

Dorothy Bailey

Fiona Dawson said...

Miles was the first client I cared for at Omega House. I saw him the night before he died and gave him a kiss after.

We talked for hours at times and he became a good friend. As Karen said, his parade will go on... I love you Miles and I know you loved all of us too. Fiona Dawson