Richard Torres and I were best friends in High School. I lived in his home during my senior year in high School. The Torres family took me in. We have stayed in touch now for close to 60 years.
Richard went into the hospital for a knee replacement during the first week of Oct this year. Two days after the surgery he had a heart attack. On Oct 8th during the heart surgery he had a stroke. Since then he has been paralyzed on his right side with minimal movement of his left arm and leg. He is now breathing on his own and is able to communicate somewhat with his eyes and gently nodding his head. He is able to pucker for his lady friend, Cherie.
Richard and Cherie met in a grief recovery group one year ago Dec 8. Richard’s wife of many years and Cherie’s husband had both passed away. Richard and Cherie have become very, very close. Since Oct 8, Cherie has been by his side every day. The most movement he is able to do is to pucker up to kiss Cherie. They are both darling.
I spent most of Sat Dec 8 with him. The nursing staff love him dearly and remind us that he could come out of this at any time and remember everything. We talk to him as if he is right there and hearing every word. He is unable to talk. Even in this state he is known as a “chick magnet” by the nurses. He has always been “highly lovable Richard”.
During my visit Saturday we were joined by Richard’s son Scott and his wife Angela. Also, Richard’s sister, Virginia came out from Ramona. Virgie graduated Ramona High in 1959. My sister graduated Ramona High in 1960. I seemed to remember more about my sister’s friends than my own. Virgie and I had a lot to share about Ramona history, Torres family and Richard and I growing up. The nurses at the hospital joined in our visits as well. Everyone enjoyed the stories of our teen-age years in small town Ramona.
Virgie is a home grown healer who has studied with Donna Edens, also from Ramona. Donna has written and teaches a healing method she calls “Energy Medicine”. Virgie and I began doing reflexology on Richards feet and head. We also gave him a pedicure and lotioned up the dry skin on his feet. I did the best I could to move his feet and legs for him. He seemed to like that a lot.
At one point Richard’s Granddaughter came in for a visit. We could tell by Richard’s blood pressure monitor if he was in distress or not. Richard does have another son, daughter in law and granddaughter who are still figuring out how to live without drugs and alcohol. When the daughter in law came in Richard’s blood pressure went sky high. Cherie has been telling Richard to stop giving them money. He has been trying to help them that way with money; So far it has not worked. Cherie told the using daughter in law not to return. So she has not.
Although Richard is now breathing on his own his kidneys have been failing. The doctors are doing dialysis every other day.
The hospital is in an older part of Evansville, Indiana. Next to the hospital is a First Baptist Church. It was 20 degrees temperature outside. As we left the hospital Scott and Angie took us to this church parking lot. The church had presented an outdoor Nativity Scene with 15 or so actors, music, sheep and a donkey and a full recreation of the biblical birth story. It was beautiful. And cold. As we entered the display a man dressed like an old shepherd greeted and directed us. Virgie asked this gentleman to say a prayer for Richard.
He gathered us together and spontaneously led us in a 3-minute prayer that was inspiring, comforting and reassuring to us all. What a gift.
Even in Richard’s debilitated condition he provided an opportunity for friendship, family, service and worship for us all.
I came back home Sunday. I really miss him.
We are all grateful.