Fear of the unknown has a way of controlling our choices
Jared was a fifty-one year old man dying from AIDS. He was living with his eighty-four year old girlfriend Lois and her two chiwawahs in a camper in rural southern Oregon. Jared’s needs were greater than the strength and endurance Lois pretended to have. Jared had to move out, he needed more care.
Lois called 911 and an ambulance chauffeured Jared to his new temporary home in the emergency room. His family scrambled for a place for Jared to die. He had just over three weeks of life left in him. His son, brothers, and uncles didn’t offer to take care of him because they were all afraid of his disease.
His mother reluctantly agreed to take him in, but not into her home. She offered him the abandoned railroad car that had been sitting in her backyard for over thirty years. Jared had no other choices.
I met Jared and Lois on a 92 degree day, there was no ventilation in the railroad car, it was like an oven inside. Her dogs were hot and irritable. Lois was doing her best to kill the flies that were landing on the infected wounds on Jared’s forehead and abdomen. As I walked in she was bopping him on the head with a tennis racket because “a fly swatter would hurt more.” My blood boiled that his family would allow him to live and die under such horrid conditions. I stormed into the air-conditioned doublewide with a mission. The entire family was there, I sat them all down, we had an empowering meeting.
When we make decisions based on avoiding things that scare us, we aren’t in control, fear is. Fear of the unknown has a way of controlling the choices our hearts really want to make. Jared’s family loved him very much, but they were scared to death of his disease. Once his disease and the dying process were no longer a scary mystery, Jared was brought inside and was loved and cared for as he deserved.
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