Oct. 28, 2016 Update on Br. Francis from Bro. Raymond based on a hospice interview.
For several weeks now, hospice care (Compassus) has been part of Br. Francis’ life. They were invited as his condition required more attention. As a result of their weekly visit, hospice is able to assess the progress of his disease and make recommendations. Recently they have been helpful in getting a wheelchair more suited to his increasingly dependent needs; Francis is no longer able to handle a motorized chair. They were able to obtain special bed and chair padding to help maintain a safe position and attend to pressure points. His bed is kept at an angle to facilitate breathing when he is in bed.
Physically he is gradually succumbing to this awful disease. Arms and hands are no longer useful. Use of the call button is almost impossible. A camera speaker has been installed enabling him to voice his needs to the nursing station. He also needs regular assistance at meals.
His speech is getting slower. We are being educated about the means of communication available when he loses his ability to speak . He experiences occasions of coughing and of shortening of breath. Oxygen will be made available for serious and more painful occasions. Tylenol has been used. Additional pain killers are available on demand.
A very dear friend, Richard Beaudoin of Canada, offered his services for a week, giving Br. Henry Monday a well-deserved break. Richard was in NH attending to his dyinh brother Jean-Paul’s needs. He passed away on Oct.14. Richard is returning to Canada Saturday Oct. 29.
Friends keeping visiting Br. Francis, occasions he greatly appreciates. This week, Pres. Richard Jusseaume and V-P Dale Howard of Walsh U. (OH) flew in for an overnight visit.
Sept. 6 meeting with head 2nd floor nurse (info from the Brothers)
Bro. Francis’ condition is slowly but gradually worsening.
His posture shows signs of some loss of torso control
The loss of hand dexterity continues to increase.
His speech becomes a problem especially at end of day when he is tired
He needs help with each meal.
He can still use the paddle to call for assistance.
He enjoys his recorded books but needs help in using the machine.
Recent books: Ashley Judd’s MEMOIRES and THE GREAT DIVIDE (Washington/Jefferson)
With increase difficulty in swallowing, a change of diet is gradually introduced
Fortunately he likes yogurt. The protein slows down muscle wasting.
No complaints about the food. Appreciates the patience shown by his feeders.
Ugandan Br. Henry Monday continues his morning assistance.
His positive, thorough, slow 1 on 1 assistance is greatly appreciated by Francis and staff
Assistance from a hospice group will soon be very timely; need not wait for death’s eminence.
Head nurse will apply for a hospice evaluation
When Francis may need all day assistance, could relieve Br.Monday for an hour or more.
Hospice helps with palliative care during the end of life process for 6 mos expectancy
Hospice provides a social worker/minister to help with emotional issues.
Our prayer should be for mercy, no necessary prolongation in such a crucifying situation.
Dear Family, Classmates, Mounties & Friends, September 2016
Sue and I had the pleasure to visit Bro. Francis this past two days. Yes you heard correct. It was a pleasure and I may add, fun. I must confess that during our 3 1/2 hour drive to Biddeford, Main from Connecticut, I was concern with Brother's condition. My concern was based on my two previous telephone conversations, lasting about two to three minutes each, that were weak and lacking his usual vigor. The concerns quickly disappeared when we entered his room.
Brother Francis was well dressed and sitting on his motorized chair greeting us with a big smile and words of welcome. When I said, "Brother, how are you doing?" His answer was, "Well, I am no longer boxing because my jab is too slow and I stopped playing basketball!" Immediately we knew, to paraphrase the ending of the classic film Casablanca, that this was the beginning of a wonderful two day visit.
We did find Brother physically weaker and not able to successfully accomplish the basic task that he previously was able to do. For example: he no longer is able to feed himself. Brother Henry is there daily to assist Bro. Francis with all his needs. It's a blessing to have Brother Henry assisting Bro. Francis and the Brothers in Alfred, where he resides.
I can assure you that Brother's mind is as sharp as ever and is able to remember people and events from various periods of his life. I was extremely happy that his voice was clear and able to carry a spirited conversation although speaking at a much slower pace. Since he no longer can hold reading materials, he enjoys listening to books on tapes. Brother is still able to navigate his motorized chair although he is concern that his mobility may soon come to pass due to continued degeneration of the muscles in his left hand / fingers. He is no longer able to use his right hand.
What Sue and I discussed returning to Connecticut was how much fund we had during our time with Brother Francis. We laughed while exchanging life stories and remembering old times. We also discussed serious matters affecting our country and the world. Also commenting on the pleasure we receive from visiting him and how much we look forward to our next visit in a few weeks.
Please remember Brother Francis in your thoughts and prayers.
Rafael S. Adames (MAI '58)
Dear Family, Classmates, Mounties & Friends, 08-04-2016 update
Once again, Sue and I had the pleasure to visit Brother Francis this past Monday and Tuesday. I have to admit that as I am entering Saint Andre's Care Center, my heart is heavy and my spirit is sad. Yet, upon my leaving on Tuesday afternoon, after saying my departing pleasantries and also stating how we are looking forward to the next visit, my heart and spirit are full of joy. Why the change you may ask? Starts with our entering Bro. Francis' room, sitting on his motorized chair, immediately greeting us with a big smile and saying, "It's wonderful to see you". His mind is as sharp as ever. His spirit and strong faith, strengthened by the Brothers (specially Bro. Henry), family and friends, are the fuels that power not only the acceptance of his present condition but also that life is a gift of God. As a result, Brother believes that one must live life as long one has life.
During our 6 1/2 hours two day visit, we noticed that since our last visit, Brother is weaker and continues to loose strength. His right arm no longer has mobility, his left arm is much weaker, no longer able to independently feed himself, and he told us that his tongue is "heavier" and has some difficulties in pronouncing some words. His present mobility in his chair is based on his ability to use the strength that he has in his left hand. He travels, with Bro. Henry at his side, to the monastery "next door" for the daily morning mass. His present disability does not prevent us from enjoying a lively conversation: Education, family, our days at the Mount and Walsh, world events, and social issues. A beautiful day on Tuesday, Brother enjoyed being outside breathing the fresh air and feeling the cool gently breeze on his face. He clearly remembers individual students and events at the Mount & Walsh. He still has the thirst for learning and the enjoyment of a good story by listening to the "oral disk / book" the he continuously receives from the State of Maine Public Library. Naturally, he is still playing Bridge once / twice a week. Although a friend has to hold his cards, he enthusiastically plays the game with great gusto.
Regarding our telephone conversations that we occasionally have , the duration of the conversation has diminished tremendously. During his time at Alfred, we spoke for about 1/2 hour. When he arrived at St. Andre's, we spoke for about 15 to 20 minutes. Recently, our conversation by phone tend to last about 3 minutes. You know me...that is hard. As my father told me once or twice, "Son, when it comes to a conversation, you are a marathon not a 100 yard dash". I have learned to adjust and enjoy those precious 3 minutes.
Sue and I are planning our next visit soon after Labor Day Weekend. Mounties and friends, I know that Brother would love to "hear" from you. I have been in his room when he receives a letter. Although someone has to open the envelope, the expression on his face as he quietly reads the correspondence...is priceless.
Rafael S. Adames, MAI '58
04/25/2016 Latest UPDATE! THANK YOU RAFAEL!
Dear family, classmates & Mounties,
This past Wednesday & Thursday we had the pleasure to visit Bro. Francis at the Saint Andre's Care Center in Bidderford, Maine. During the two days visit, we were able to be with him for about six hours. Bro. Francis was much weaker now than the last time we saw him five weeks ago. Early in our conversation he mentioned and we noticed that he was having a harder time articulating some words and completing some sentences. He demonstrated his sharp mind by our discussion of such issues as world events, present US politics and education. We also had some laughter talking about "the good old days" at MAI. A good discussion was the memory of our band director Peter "Sarge" Blessant who was able to accomplish so much with high standards for so long.
Soon after we arrived on Wednesday, Winfred Braun (MAI '58) called Brother Francis from Germany. Brother needed some assistance with the telephone and the conversation would have lasted much longer in past years. However, his smile during the phone call was priceless.
Brother Francis still plays Bridge with his bridge friends of the last five years, having an extra player to manipulate his cards. Brother looks forward to the once a week card game.
Brother Francis still has some control of his hands. He is able to navigate his motor chair...no longer as if he were in the Daytona 500 but now he "drives" as if in the Bidderford 100.
As always, if you have a few minutes drop Brother Francis a brief note, I know that he would enjoy that very much. Naturally, if you are in the neighborhood, stop by to see him (avoid the morning that he is playing bridge), I can assure you that it will be a visit that you will always remember.
What did we find during our visit? Yes, Brother Francis is weaker than the last time we saw him five weeks ago. However, after being with him for a few minutes, our feelings and conversations are positive. During our drive returning to Connecticut, Sue and I felt emotionally and spiritually better because of our visit with Brother Francis, a man who continues to demonstrate great faith during this trying time. About two years ago while discussing his illness with me he said, "I don't know how long the Lord is giving me but I will continue to live as long as I have life (sic)". Think about that!
Rafael Adames (MAI '58)
01/16/2016 Update from Rafael Adames on Brother Francis
Dear MAI Classmates, Mounties and Friends,
Sue and I just spoke with Bro. Francis; always in good spirit and a tower of spiritual strength. I'm happy to tell you that he received over 50 birthday card / letters. I could tell from his voice that those cards & letters brought him great joy. Unfortunately, he can't write to respond to your wonderful messages. Although Bro. Francis did not tell me the content of your cards & letters, he did tell me that he was very happy with the messages. It was wonderful that many of you remembered the birthday of this religious honorable educator. Thank you for being part of this happy occasion.
It was hopeful that Bro. Francis could return to Alfred to celebrate his birthday. It was decided to celebrate his special day at the Center. He was happy with his birthday celebration where his guests could still enjoy his company with good conversation, cake and refreshment.
The weather in CT has been terribly cold in recent days. Sue and I hope to visit Bro. Francis in Biddeford, Maine in the near future while he is still in his "honeymoon period" regarding the illness (doctor's phrase as told by Bro. Francis).
Rafael S. Adames
I have attached a copy of a letter sent by Brother Francis to be shared with all Alumni. Those of us who know Francis have a great respect for the character and fortitude of this man. His letter stands as an inspiration to all of us who have been blessed to have had the opportunity to call him a friend.
As Brother Francis states in his letter, his heart will remain with his friends on earth.
Don Recore - Webpage Administrator