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Publication: Fifty & Furthermore
Angels and Elephants

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FIFTY & FURTHERMORE - Thursday, December 14, 2006

"I'm Dr. Dorree Lynn, founder of FiftyandFurthermore.com. 
Growing older can be a time for creative and passionate 
living, and I will apply my years as a psychologist to 
help you with the challenges and wonders that come with 
this new life stage."
------------------------------------------------------------

Hello and welcome to FIFTY & FURTHERMORE! 

Today I will share a moving story as told by one of 
FiftyandFurthermore.com's newest contributors. If you 
would like to make a comment or ask me a question, 
please email me at the address below and as always, I 
will do all 
I can to provide you with the advice you seek.

As I always say, "life is too hard to do alone - reach 
out!"

Dr. Dorree Lynn, Psychologist


Please send questions and comments to: 
email Dr. Lynn


ELEPHANTS AND ANGELS by Becky Busey

Dr. Witold Winiarz was a dignified, traveled, multilingual
psychiatrist and great-grandfather who died at the age of 
ninety-nine. I remember my last lunch with him. We sat in 
his sun room as my kids played quietly on the floor. He 
had been resting most of the day. We sat at the table with 
the clean white tablecloth and silver rimmed plates waiting 
in silence. It was then that he made his loud announcement 
with determination. "I feel I have lived a long life, I 
have done many things, had a family. I am ready to die." 
There was a rush of activity. The maid moved more quickly 
to serve food. Everyone shifted uncomfortably. There were 
murmurs and fumbling. People seeking something to fidget 
with in an effort to appear preoccupied and avoid address-
ing the subject. My mother urged in a hushed yell, "Dad! 
Don't say that! That's not going to happen!" From the 
other room I heard the high pitched Texas-squawk from the 
step-witch, "Viiiitold! That'sTeeeerrriibulll!!! Don't 
tell them that!."

I stared blankly, holding my breath. Have I missed some-
thing? These seemed like rational... okay, rational is 
too strong a word... non-delusional people. Are Papa and 
I the only ones seeing the big light here? You know, the 
big light at the end of the tunnel illuminating the large 
white elephant that no one is talking about!

I believed Papa had earned the right to talk about this. 
If anyone should have an opinion on when and how Dr. 
Winiarz would take his last breath, shouldn't it be him? 
My confusion melted into the sadness of the lost conver-
sation. The conversation that would have lasted another 
lifetime. The words I would have reflected upon on my 
own death bed, waiting, anticipating the unknown.

This was a man who, by any standard, might have the 
answers. This was a ninety-nine year old man who 
studied psychiatry in Vienna. He was a ships doctor 
and a friend. He traveled to India and China and 
Afghanistan. He wrote books and survived war and Naz 
is. He came to America seeking peace and then soon 
buried two sons, struck dead by lightening. This elder 
spoke seven languages and kept a book of jokes inside 
his coat pocket. He enjoyed Lawrence Welk and precisely 
measured martinis. "Papa, what do you expect to happen 
when you die?" "Do you believe in God? in Jesus? in 
Buddha, reincarnation?" "Are you afraid?" " Why are we 
here?" "What have you learned?" "Do you have any last 
confessions? Am I Jewish?" Yet we were separated by a 
chasm of inappropriate dialog, disapproving glares and 
a feeble hearing aid.

--------------------------------------------------------
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--------------------------------------------------------

I see my family sporadically and talk to them on the 
phone a couple times a month. I love them, but common 
interests don't overlap much. Over Thanksgiving we 
caught up. I asked my older brother about his work, his 
dating, or lack thereof. I asked about the health and 
happiness of his many, many cats. I am not real into 
politics and computers, so it leaves a lag in conversa-
tion. I asked my sister about art school, her boyfriend 
and the prospects of shaving her legs sometime in the 
next year. Then ... I got nothin'. My parents are 
retired. Dad is friendly but nutty. I need to avoid some 
topics there. Mom doesn't want to discuss her "diagnosis." 
That is how she refers to her Parkinson's Disease. Men-
tioning it only irritates her. Anyways, Jesus is sche-
duled to heal her soon. Why don't we talk about more 
meaningful topics? I think of all the frivolous time 
spent discussing weddings and movies, politics and 
gossip. What a waste!

Lest you think I am a shrinking violet, unwilling to 
grow from my lost opportunity, I will share some more. 
I have recently made a new friend. Evelyn and I go to 
church together in Oklahoma. She is the most engaging 
seventy year-old woman I have ever had the pleasure of 
befriending. I held her captive one afternoon in her 
own house as she was recovering from foot surgery. I 
brought my prisoner some lunch and softened her up 
with a little humor. Evelyn shared with me the death 
of her own mother, Dorothy. Evelyn's family is so oddly 
normal and loving that they ought to be studied in a 
laboratory. Perhaps that is why she speaks of the death 
so easily.

Evelyn's mother took several days in the hospital to 
make her unusual final departure. Evelyn and the rest 
of the family sat with her. Doctors quizzically checked 
on Mother repeatedly. Nurses skeptically observed her. 
Finally, even a psychiatrist was secretly called in to 
evaluate the situation. Mother and the psychiatrist had 
a lengthy chat about her favorite football teams and 
all the stats and players. The psychiatrist said Mother 
was normal. The diagnosis was not mutual. Mother de-
clared, "That man needs help! He doesn't even know what 
day it is, or where he's at!" You see, she was not on 
any medicine that would cause delusions. There was no 
organic cause to explain these paranormal events.

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Mother laid in the bed enraptured and tickled at the sight 
of all the colorful angels visiting her room. The colors 
were grandiose and the lighthearted feeling that the angels 
gave her inspired and tickled the family and staff who 
frequented the room. Mother would say, "Evelyn, over there! 
Circle your arms around and walk to the other side of the 
bed! There, Now! Your hand just went right through one! 
Did you feel anything?" This was a lot of fun for everyone 
involved. The heavenly visitations continued for three days. 
Everyone was excited and anxious to hear of the splendor of 
the angels. The doctor made many notes, and spent a lot of 
time searching for a logical source of the delusions. The 
doctor had known this family for years. They were good, 
sane, hard-working folks. He could not come to a 
scientific conclusion.

Later, when Evelyn returned from the bathroom, Mother 
inquired excitedly, "Evelyn! Did you see them!" "Who, 
Mother?" Evelyn responded. "Daddy and Bob! They were 
here! They said they are preparing a place for me, a 
big house! And it's almost ready!" Tears of emotion 
welled in Evelyn's eyes as she yearned for her father 
and husband's company once again. "Mother, what are 
you going to do?" Mother turned serious as she asked, 
"About what?" Evelyn implored, "That house, Mother! 
How are you going to redecorate that great big house? 
You know Daddy always hangs the wallpaper upside down! 
You're going to have to redo everything!" The two women 
laughed! Mother said, "Kids, I am having the most fun 
dying!" Even the doctor was convinced that this was a 
genuine spiritual experience.

I hold this story close to my heart. It gives me comfort, 
reassurance and hope. I am so grateful to Evelyn for
sharing the experience with me.

------------------------------------------------------------
     For more insight and advice from Dr. Lynn visit:              
fiftyandfurthermore.com

------------------------------------------------------------

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