In all the news items about who passed away in 2012, we must all remember that there were many not so well known people, who also passed, from illness, old age, and far too frequently, from violence. We get all upset over the killing of a few children in an elementary school, but many more children of that age were killed every week from violence, including child abuse. I don’t know how many times this year I heard news items about a gun being fired in a neighborhood, or at a house, in which a child is killed, mostly from drive by shootings.
However, all this aside, I would like to point out the passing of three living souls at the Indian Meadows Nursing Center, in Overland Park, Kansas, a part of the Kansas City Metro area. Neither did anything extraordinary except they came into being, grew up to perform jobs most others would rather not do, have children, and passed away in a nursing home. In addition, both brought some happiness and joy to others.
The first was Shelton Edward Stark, born August 6, 1936, in Higginsville (MO), one of those blink and you missed it towns about 60 miles from where he passed. Three years later, his family moved to Kansas City, where with the exception on one extended stay out of town, he lived all his life.
That extended stay came in 1954, when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
After the Corps, he got married, and had two children. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last, and in 1964, it was dissolved. He remarried in 1974, having one more child.
During this time, he worked as a Kansas City Firefighter, retiring from it after 20-years, than going to work for the Kansas City Transit Authority as a Bus Driver.
He was a dutiful father, never missing a school play, football game, dance recital, and graduation. To his children, he was a hero.
He had spent many years in the nursing home, rooming with another military veteran who will miss him very much.
Shelton made many friends over the years, but most especially many of the residents and employees of the nursing home. He passed on Christmas Day.
The second living soul that passed away was known for mainly two things. Bringing joy to the lives of others, and having many offspring, nearly 40 with the same companion. All of those offspring went on to bring joy and entertainment to others.
Now, you would think that having nearly 40 offspring with the same female companion would have been a news worthy event, but you see this living soul was a Turtle Dove that lived its whole life in the bird aviary at Indian Meadows.
Now, you might think that there is nothing extraordinary about a dove having chicks, but the thing was this pair of doves produced upward of a dozen chicks, or more, every year. While these two were being fruitful, nearly none of the aviaries in nursing homes, within a 200 miles radius, saw any production of chicks. This pair was the main provider of Turtle Doves to most every nursing home in Kansas and Missouri, plus some in Nebraska.
This pair had being fruitful down to an art form.
However, one day in December, the male was found dead at the bottom of the cage. A few days later, his female partner followed suit.
For many residents of nursing homes, sitting and watching the birds in the aviary is the highlight of their days, especially when a new chick was born. When the male cooed to his mate, it could be heard over 100-feet-away, which is doing well in a place as noisy as a nursing home can get.
Now, comparing the passing of a human to that of one of God’s Lesser Creatures might seem a little extreme, but consider that both filled a place in our world, and had either never existed, we would be lesser for it.
Far too often, we go through life not stopping to, as it is said, “Smell The Roses”, so we miss out on the little things that is always happening around us. Life is more than just the humans that reside on this old planet and all life are living souls.
So, the next time you are rushing to that important meeting, take a moment and look around you. See the birds flying by, the clouds passing over head, and even the bugs living their bug’s life. Take the time to occasionally watch the sun, or moon rise, and set. It is winter, and through our eyes, much of the world appears gray, but buy a simple pair of yellow tinged glasses, and you will see just how much green there is even in the middle of Winter.
Finally, remember the forgotten people, living out the last days of their lives in a nursing home, half of which have no close relatives. Visit the nursing home nearest you and ask the Activities Director what you can do to help, on occasion. It does not need to be anything major, perhaps helping a paraplegic, living their life on a ventilator, play bingo once a month.
We the forgotten would appreciate some recognition from society, and remember, the day may come when you become one of us.
George R. McCasland, Resident
Indian Meadows Nursing Center
Overland Park, KS