Tracy K. Lorenz / Taking Care


And the Ball Is Free

There are certain events in life that you’ll remember where you were until you reach eternal quietus. I remember where I was when the space shuttle blew up, where I was when the North Tower fell, and when I heard Lady Di bought it (I was in a car on the way to Sand Lake).

I remember I was in my apartment in East Lansing for the famed “Stanford Band” football game. There was a bookie who lived in our complex and he sold Parlay Cards. You had to pick a minimum of four winners against the spread and if you got them all correct you won four times your bet but you had to get them all correct. If you went five for five it paid even more, if you picked ten games and got them all correct it paid 1,000 to one which was fair since the odds of doing that were a hundred and fifty billion to one.

One week I chose eight games and I got the first seven right. All I needed was for John Elway and Stanford to beat the Cal State Bears and I was staring at $2,000.00. Stanford took the lead with seconds left and we were going nuts. My roommate, Al “The Lobster” Lyons, was on the phone ordering a keg from Ted’s Party Store when Cal took the final kick and started tossing the ball around. Next thing you
know a trombone player is getting run over and I’m out two large.

The keg order was cancelled.

I bring that up because today is the fourth anniversary of the single greatest moment I have experienced in sports. I’ve had five Hole-in-ones, bowled a 300 game, but NOTHING compares to the 2015 Michigan / Michigan State game, the game that was supposed to be Jim Hairball’s coronation as the savior of all that worship bad helmet designs.

State was losing (as they were supposed to) with six seconds left, all Chokeagain had to do was get off a punt, not even a good punt, just something in the air, and the game was over and Harbaugh statues would move into the rough-carving stage. I was on the lower level of my house in my special little football watching area. (I hate the term “Man Cave” even more than I hate the term “She-shed.”) And I couldn’t sit there and watch the Spartan’s imminent demise. I actually picked up the remote to turn the TV off when I heard ESPN announcer Sean McDonough say those immortal words “He has trouble with the snap! And the ball is freeee!”

Next thing you know Jalen Watts-Jackson and a convoy in white are heading to the end-zone, there’s a big dogpile, Watts-Jackson breaks his leg, a Michigan student puts his hands on his head in disbelief, Harbaugh stares at the scoreboard, they zoom in on two older State fans who, at the greatest moment in MSU sports history, WERE GOING TO SHAKE HANDS when one old guy decides he’d rather zip up his jacket.

So yeah, they can beat us the next ten years in a row and I won’t care. Gor one glorious night 100,000 people had the rug yanked out from under them simultaneously.  Extreme joy to soul-crushing defeat in six seconds. It was the absolutely perfect scenario, better than if we’d beaten them 50 to nothing, a stab to the heart they’d have to live with for one calendar year, a defeat so devastating when the game was over ... the band didn’t even bother to come onto the field.

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Taking Care

Caregivers need to focus on themselves while administering to others

By Emmanuel Hospice

You matter, too.

That’s the message organizations like Emmanuel Hospice tries to convey to friends and family members caught up in a whirlwind of challenges that come with caring for a loved one who is sick or dying.

“Patients are our main focus,” says Ashley Huisman, a social worker for seven years who serves as bereavement manager at Emmanuel. “But at the same time, we’re there for family members as well, reminding them that as they work to care for someone, they need to acknowledge that they have rights and responsibilities, too. To eat well. Sleep enough. Take care of themselves.”

Huisman likens it to the instructions flight attendants provide passengers when they emphasize that if masks drop from the ceiling, it’s important for adults to put theirs on first, and then help any children in need.

“The same thing holds true of caregivers,” she says. “They need to be healthy first in order to administer to others.”

As part of a resource tool kit Emmanuel provides, Huisman hands out a “Caregiver Bill of Rights” to those who find themselves feeling “run down or run over” by the effects of stress that comes with aiding a loved one.

“It says I have the right to take care of myself, to be angry or depressed, to express virtually any emotion as part of the process,” she explains. “They need to remind themselves that it’s often natural to become sad or frustrated, and that those aren’t the only feelings that come into play.”

Huisman notes that it’s not uncommon for a caregiver to feel satisfied and accomplished in the morning, only to have things disintegrate later when a patient lashes out, creating a “caregiver roller-coaster” that amps up the stress level.

“It can go back and forth quickly,” says Huisman, “prompting some caregivers to move from confident to ‘I don’t know if I can do this for another minute.’ ”

Huisman offers these tips to those serving as caregivers:

• Keep a journal of what works, what doesn’t and ways that seem to decrease anxiety
• Don’t go it alone; reach out to professionals for advice
• Attend group sessions and workshops to lessen the load and discover coping strategies

She also recommends tapping into a free, secure web-

site like, which offers advice on everything from advanced directives to funeral options to how to write your life story. It can serve as a fluid tool to help deal with day-to-day stressors.

Finally, Huisman encourages caregivers to understand the concept of “anticipatory grief,” which acknowledges the profound sadness that can surface well before someone passes.

“Grief doesn’t always happen after someone dies,” she says. “It can occur before as well, so we’re here to help caregivers anticipate what’s to come.”

Bottom line: Be good to yourself so you can be at your very best in the role as caregiver.

“You need to affirm your own self-worth and value,” says Huisman. “You’re a person, too, and you matter.”

Emmanuel Hospice is a faith-based nonprofit provider of compassionate, person-centered hospice care to patients and families in West Michigan. Serving the community since 2013, the organization is a collaborative effort of St. Ann’s, Clark, Porter Hills and Sunset designed to complete the continuum by providing end-of-life care to those inside – and outside – the walls of these organizations. For more information, visit


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