My Time with a Veteran…..and his Wife

Let me start my story with this. My Mother worked for the Department of Social Services here in Warren County many years ago and she had been tasked with the duties of an “In-Home-Health-Aid” assisting the elderly with daily chores and errands – back then I believe that it was called a Chore Provider.

After what seemed like only a very short time, my Mother began taking care of the Terminally Ill patients providing nearly the same services as what todays’ Hospice would. My Mother got such good reviews from her patients and family, that most often times, she would be requested back by the family to take care of other family members.

One particular patient that sticks out in my mind was a man named Mr. Klienfelter. I didn’t know him that well because he was already in his final days but I clearly remember his daughter Donna. Donna was a very boisterous, loud and very outspoken person – Larger than Life as one would say and it was definitely her way or the highway and she didn’t mind telling you that. Mr. Klienfelter eventually passed away and after many more patients and years with DSS, My Mother finally retired. My Mother and Donna remained friends for life.

Later, Donna became sick and was diagnosed with Cancer. As it turns out, my Mother was asked to come and care for Donna until she could get back on her feet.  Along with my Mother, there were two other people who looked after Jesse and Donna in shifts throughout the week . As I was visiting my Mother one day I was re-introduced to Donna and that’s when I met her Husband Jesse. Now as I found out, Jesse and Donna were originally natives of Durham, North Carolina but had moved to New Mexico where they raised their two children. After a time, Jesse and Donna moved back to Warren County after Jesse retired from the Air Force. During some of my visits, I heard many stories and anecdotes from his career and I also learned that he retired as a Master Sergeant after serving this county for over 22 years.

I visited the Hickersons often and my Mother looked after Donna until she passed away from the cancer, but continued to look after Jesse who had become “not as independent” as his family or he would have liked. It was a very rough time for Jesse losing his Wife of so many years and of her personality. Donna was always “Large and in Charge” not in size, but in her personality type. She looked after her home, after Jesse and after the children whether they liked it or not and she demanded that she remained in the spotlight of life. Not bad things as it were and she had a great heart, always willing to help someone out, if they truly needed it.  Now with Jesse, he was totally opposite of Donna. He said things only when they needed saying and he was a very proud American. He wore his “Retired” colors with pride. Jesse was not able to get up and do as most of us could and relied on his care providers to do daily chores, shopping and the driving for him. Although I think it was the companionship that truly helped both of them the most.

On one of my many visits, after Donna had passed, Jesse asked me “Do you think I am being too hard on the care providers – I feel really bad that all I do is sit here and bark orders all day”. I assured Jesse that all of the Chore Providers were happy to be of service to him and that after all that he had done for this country, maybe it was time for him to be able to sit back and let others “protect” and care for him. He of course responded with “yeah but it makes me feel funny”……..

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