Column: Starfish among us

  • Thursday, December 20, 2012

Take a look-see around you, and you’ll probably think the folks you see are just like you. Not really much different. Sure the hair, the face, the eyes might be another color or have another appearance, but they’re just plain people, too.
At first look, you’d be right. But if you can use a different kind of eyesight you just might be able to tell that some of those folks are really different — they’re starfish.
And no, your editor hasn’t gone off his rocker.
Hospice Care of South Carolina just recognized 30 people in the Pee Dee area as Starfish, including several from Georgetown.
Cindy McLaughlin, who writes a monthly column for the Georgetown Times and its sister newspapers — Waccamaw Times and Inlet Outlook — explained it this way.
An old man was walking along the beach with his grandson. He saw that the young boy would run over, pick something up and gently throw it into the waves. Then he’d run over, stoop down and do it again … and yet again.
Grandpa asked what the kid was doing, and he explained that the tide was going out. If the starfish weren’t able to stay in the water, they would die. So, the little guy was throwing the starfish in the ocean.
With the wisdom of his years, Grandpa said there are hundreds and hundreds of starfish all along the beach. You can’t possibly help them all.
Through his young eyes, the kid saw things differently.
He picked up another starfish, threw it gently into the water and said, it makes a difference to that one.

Human starfish

Dawn Teachey, CEO of Hospice Care of South Carolina, recognized a couple of local Georgetown cops, this editor, and a variety of fellow Hospice Care employees and family members of patients for doing small things that can make a difference, one life at a time.
Georgetown Police Chief Paul Gardner drove to a regional meeting in Florence with Sergeant Stephen Church and officer Mitchell Minto on Wednesday, Dec. 12. He didn’t tell his officers just what was up, but when they walked into a room with perhaps a hundred folks and a sign proclaiming the good that comes from being “weird,” they knew it wasn’t a routine meeting.
Last summer, the two men answered a 9-1-1 call where a woman was hurt. She and her husband live in a Habitat-built home. He’s a hospice patient. Their grass needed to be cut, and the wife was preparing to do that. The lawn mower was hard to start, and somehow her pants leg got caught in the mower and she fell.
She wasn’t hurt too badly, but enough that she couldn’t tend to the grass.
The cops returned later in the day and mowed the grass for the couple. They went back a few weeks later and did it again.
Not a big thing, overall, but Hospice Care staff knew they were assisting one of their clients and nominated Church and Minto for making a difference.
… and that’s the “weird” part. Doing small things differently and better to help others.

Flat tire

Over in Darlington, a patient in Crisis Care died. The Hospice Care nurse and aide helped prepare her body and the aide left. As the funeral home car arrived, the aide called and said she had a flat tire. The nurse said she would drive over when she was through at the patient’s home. Her adult sons asked what was happening. When they found out, they told the nurse “You are not going anywhere, we are. Sherry took wonderful care of us and Mother and we love her so we will go take care of her tire.”
There’s a couple more starfish.

“His girls”

Family members nominated a pair of Hospice Care members who took care of their dad with love and compassion. They kept him free from pain and helped the family help him “do so many things he wanted to do and see before he died. He also made us promise to make sure that you all knew how thankful he was for Rosemarie and Kimberly and how much he appreciated the wonderful care they gave to him. They were ‘his girls’ and he loved them like family.”
More starfish.

Beauty consultant

Over in Williamsburg County, nurse’s aide Yvonne Bauer “honed in on the fact that my mother loves to be attractive and well groomed.”
Daughter Gene G. wrote in her nomination that Bauer would bathe her mother, including doing her hair and nails, dress her attractively, tends to her drying skin “and then lavishes her with praises on her appearance. My mother cries when she leaves and continuously asks throughout the day when her beauty consultant is coming back.”
“Some people may not feel or think that the things mentioned above are specific or important events but when a ray of sunshine named Yvonne Bauer enters a house often clouded with doubts and fears of what is coming next, the clouds disappear and her sunshine personality warms and calms us all.”
Still another starfish.
Catrina Charlie in Florence is a nurse’s aide. Not only does she care for the husband of the woman who nominated her, but she’s also his link to the outside world.
“What she may not know is that she is a true godsend for myself as well,” the wife wrote. She’s  able to work part-time and take a break from being caregiver “with the confidence that he is receiving the highest quality of care, love and attention he deserves.”
Add a starfish.
Chaplain Danny Pierce serves Darlington and Florence counties. He provides ongoing support to families and staff, helps bring in more patients to Hospice care and helped provide for admission of a longtime friend. He helped with the crisis care, and presided at his memorial service where he wore a Clemson tie in honor of his friend’s love of the Tigers.
Here’s an orange-colored starfish.

Making a difference

McLaughlin approached the Georgetown Times a year ago about writing a column dealing with hospice care.
It was a delight to agree, because we have so many readers who are themselves in need of care as they approach the ends of their lives, or family members who need that care.
McLaughlin agreed to write her columns about general issues relating to hospice. And she nominated the Times because we have provided the space to help our readers learn more not just about her own agency but about the hospice philosophy and services in general.
In Georgetown County, we have close to 20 hospice agencies that provide health and nursing care, respite care, give a break to family members and so much more.
Whether it be something related to hospice, or simply being a good friend and neighbor, we can all do things to help others.
And those simple acts of kindness and concern can do much to make this world a better place.
It’s a way that each one of us, whatever we do in life, can make a difference. We can do good while we fight the evil that exists. Think Columbine. Think Newtown, Connecticut.
We might not change the world, but like the little boy and the starfish, we can make a difference to that one that we do help.

Tommy Howard is editor of the Georgetown Times, Waccamaw Times and Inlet Outlook.

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