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All Articles For Good Morning, Alice

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. It had now become a question of allowing Alice slowly to starve to death—or undergo the rigor of surgery, with its attendant dangers, to provide an opening directly into her stomach. Alice was not able to decide. The family debated the pros and cons, and finally decided on the surgery. It would alleviate the choking spells that developed when she tried to eat, and would make her more comfortable during her remaining life. One thing: the surgery would have to be scheduled the week of Thanksgiving...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. After about a week in the hospital, Alice came home again. Now she could be fed through a tube directly into her stomach. It seemed a strange way of being fed, and Alice herself did not always appreciate it. The insertion of a plastic tube into the small opening into her stomach did not hurt, but seemed to be a bit uncomfortable for her. Not a few times the tube would be inserted too far—and Alice was sure to let us know; or it was not...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. Communication can sometimes approach the absurd. One notices this especially when part of this communication is carried on with a spelling-card. Alice often insisted on spelling out something which, subsequently to us, seemed utterly unimportant—especially for a person in her position. On one occasion, she expressively kept looking across the room. Obviously, she wanted to tell us something. All kinds of questions could not arrive at the problem. So we took out the spelling-card. Slowly she spelled out: d-r-a-p-e. A glance across the room quickly showed...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. Every Christmas, Alice made a great deal of giving presents to her nieces and nephews of high school age and younger. When she was well, she found pleasure in shopping for each present—and watching later the reaction of each child who received it. This last Christmas that Alice was with us, she would also give presents—but the parents were instructed by her to buy presents for their own children with money she provided. The children must be told that the present was from Aunt Alice. The...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. Alice was still able to get out occasionally. She seemed to welcome the opportunity to escape the confines of her bed. Surprisingly, she could still sit fairly well in her wheel chair, though now for only short periods of time. She took her last, brief shopping trip on February 16 to K-mart. She found this to be interesting still, but she returned home very tired. That favorite pastime of hers, shopping, had also now come to an end. Good Morning Alice:  I’m afraid I should have...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. (Alice Van Baren: b. .August 12, 1935; d. March 24, 1982; after suffering for two years with ALS. She was a life-long member of the South Holland, IL. Protestant Reformed Church. The last two years of her life she spent at the home of her brother John in Grand Rapids, MI.) We tell this story, not so much of a sickness, a terrible and fatal sickness—though this too—but of communion of saints. Even that must be told but in part, for words can not express the...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. Alice attended the weddings of two of her nephews in September and October. She had always shown great interest in her nieces and nephews—every year giving a Christmas present to each (until they graduated from high school). Now she attended the weddings of the first two of her nephews to be married. That required, of course, travel from Illinois to Grand Rapids. For the first wedding she herself drove; for the second one, she rode with cousins. She could still drive a car, but already it...

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jise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. There was but a single step from Alice’s garage apartment into the kitchen. Brother John attached handles on the door frame so Alice could hold to them while pulling herself carefully up the step. Another handle was attached to the door frame of her bedroom so that she had something on which to hold when walking into that room. Though she was still able to walk by herself, it was ever more slowly. The challenge was to find new ways of helping her help herself with...

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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan. It was discouraging, even depressing, for the family to see Alice so completely helpless—yet so fully conscious of everything. It was as though she was trapped, imprisoned, in her own body. She was there; we knew she was there—but only her eyes seemed to show it. It took longer and longer also each night to prepare her for sleep. She still needed her limbs adjusted exactly to her liking. But especially her head had to be in a proper angle: with the bed head turned up,...

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