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The Bridge of Love
Eli is the only son of Marcus and Danie (Danielle) Berkashem. Both of his parents come from wealthy upbringings. Eli could have had anything he ever wanted, but he very seldom asked for things, and if he did, it was usually something for someone else.
When Eli turned twenty-two and he had finished all the financial college courses that he needed, he was ready to go out in to the world of finance. He had many choices in this field of expertise; the world was his oyster (so to speak). So one day when Eli came to his parents and told them that he was going to go to South Africa, his parents thought he meant that he had gotten a job with a company there, but it was not a paid job, it was a volunteer humanitarian position, in other words, he was going on a mission’s trip.
Marcus wanted Eli to carry on the family business, at least with the financial schooling Eli would have an understanding of how to manage a large sum of money, but this mission’s trip was a stretch for Marcus to understand. Danie wasn’t surprised in the least bit considering Eli’s nature. Danie told Marcus that Eli is a grown man and they need to allow him to make his own decisions. Marcus replied with, “If I’m still going to be supporting him; I think I should have some say.” Danie reminded Marcus that his money comes from his father, and how would he like it if his dad said that to him, if he were here?” Marcus knew that what his wife had just said was true, so he had nothing more to say.
Eli went to South Africa and was very happy in his life. It felt like he was finally in his own element, instead of his father’s. Eli was there for about ten months when he received a message to call his mother. He got a hold of his mom and she gave him the tragic news that his dad had died of a massive heart attack. He rushed home to help his mother, because it was more important for him to be with her at this time than to remain in South Africa.
When they got passed the funeral and all of the legalities, Danie told Eli that if he wanted to return to South Africa he should do so, that he had his life to live, and she would be fine. Eli said that he felt that he could do as much good right there in the town they live in, as he could do in South Africa. Eli began a service to help organizations get the funding needed from private sources, as opposed to government funding. His financial schooling was going to be very useful, and his mother was of great help because she had a lot of friends who would be willing to give to a worthy cause. Eli and his mom were now in business together.
Eli told his mom that they needed a name for their organization. Danie said, “What about Bridge of Love? We’re a bridge between those who are in need and those who can help.” Eli liked that name, but what he didn’t know is that just a few short years away, Bridge of Love was going to have a lot more meaning than it does at this time.
Eli and his mom had helped get funding for many local and national/global organizations during many catastrophic events. They were about to suffer their own catastrophic event that would change their lives and everything that they’ve worked so hard to achieve; Danie was diagnosed with being in latter stages of cancer. She was terminally ill, and was not given long to live. They did have options, but the chances of those options really helping were very slim, and Danie didn’t want to lose what quality of life she could have, for such a small percentage of hopeful success.
Eli was facing the greatest challenge of his life. This was not only his mother, but she is his dear friend and business partner. He needed to make what time she had left of her life, the very best that it could be. Eli got in touch with Danie’s doctor and arrangements were made for home Hospice care. Eli told the Hospice registration nurse that he didn’t feel comfortable with bathing his mother, because she was always very modest and he didn’t want her to be embarrassed. The nurse said that she would arrange for an aide to come in and bathe her, when the time came. He asked if it were possible to help him find a live-in aide that he could pay as part of his own staff, that way she would be on hand for any unforeseen feminine dilemmas.
Eli was willing to do anything it was going to take to make his mother’s life more comfortable. Hospice arranged for a live-in aide, her name was Bethany Marquette, it worked out perfectly, as she needed to find a new place to live; the apartment complex where she was living was one of many buildings earmarked to be demolished in order to make way for a new freeway. She was very happy to have a nice home to live in while she was looking for an affordable apartment to move to.
Molly had been the family’s cook for many years. Eli asked her to always make his mom’s favorites foods. Not the foods that she eats when she is dieting, but the ones that she really enjoys. Molly is like a second mother to Eli. She lives at the residence as well, and is having a hard time dealing with her longtime employer and friend being terminally ill, and is leery about a new person moving in, but she understands that it is for the purpose of taking care of Danie, and that’s the most important thing.
Two months of time has gone by, and Danie has good days but the bad days are getting more frequent. Eli has heard through the grapevine that the Hospice workers are losing the lease on their building. Eli talked to the administrator, Rachel, and asked if they would consider working out of his home until they found just the right facility. One side of his home is guest rooms with a large meeting room complete with a kitchenette. (His father had many guests come in from all over the world and they would stay at the family home where they would conduct all their meetings.) It would be a perfect temporary home for their needs. Within a week Hospice began to move in the office equipment, and within a month the move was complete.
Eli told Rachel that he and his mother provide a service which helps get private funding for different organizations. They’re not as active now that his mom is sick, but they still have the connections needed to get help for a worthy cause. The administrator, Rachel, told Eli that most all of Hospice funding is private donation, so anything that he would be able to do would be greatly appreciated.
While Eli and Rachel were talking, one of the Hospice nurses returned from her home visits. Joyce, the nurse, said that she didn’t know what to do about one of her patients. She said that the woman doesn’t have a family member who could take care of her, and Joyce feels that the woman needs to go in to a skilled nursing facility. This was something very difficult for Eli to hear, because he can’t imagine his own mother being in the position of being all alone. He knew that this was going to be something he would need to pray about.
Eli noticed that his mom was awake and he asked her if she felt like sitting outside to get some fresh air. She said that she didn’t want to do just yet, that she needed to give him something. Danie told Eli to go to the bottom drawer on the right, of her dresser, that he would find her old diary; she wanted him to have it. He did as she asked, and there was a little tattered red diary. She told him that she wanted him to read it to her. So Eli sat down by her bed and he began to read. Her diary was one that she had gotten for her eighteenth birthday in 1982. Eli got to read about her birthday, and what she wanted to do with her life. She wrote that she wanted to do something to help people. That she has never had to go without, and she wanted to give back, because she has been so blessed in her own life.
Eli went on to read, “December 3, 1983, I met a guy named Marcus Berkashem through a mutual friend, it wasn't love at first sight, he seemed like a smart alack, spoiled rich kid, but as the evening went along, he wasn't so bad.” Next entry, “I had a dream last night that a young man and I started an organization together. We would bring together people in need with others who could help them. We would call our organization, Bridge of Love. I take this dream as a sign that Marcus is the one.” Eli stopped reading and looked at his mother with tearful eyes, and she said, “I thought the dream was about your father and me, little did I know it would be about my son and me.”
“Eli, I want you to promise that you will keep Bridge of Love up and running even after I’m gone. It will be your heart’s desire though in how to best use the organization to help others. If I can entrust anyone with my dream it’s you Eli.” Eli had no idea that he and his mother have always shared the same desire to help others. Eli’s dad ran the home, and it was all about business, all the time.
Eli told his mom what the nurse, Joyce, had said about her patient. He asked his mom if she thought this was a situation that they could help with. Danie said that she wanted to talk to Rachel, the administrator. Eli went to see if Rachel was still there, and she was. Eli asked her if she would mind to step in and talk with his mom when she had a minute, she immediately went in to see what Danie wanted to talk to her about. Danie, Rachel and Eli discussed the situation concerning Joyce’s patient. Danie asked if it were possible to bring the woman to their home where she wouldn’t be alone, and she could continue receiving her Hospice care. The move would be done through she and Eli’s organization, Bridge of Love. Rachel said that she needed to talk to a Hospice social worker, and she would get back to them.
The very next day things went in to play. The Hospice social worker contacted the organizations needed, and the woman’s doctor arranged for her to be moved by ambulance to Danie and Eli’s home; the home that would now be known as, The Bridge of Love.
Danie and Eli were very happy to have been able to help the woman. Her name was Amanda. Amanda and Danie enjoyed spending time together, but within weeks of Amanda moving in Danie was nearing her end, and she had gotten to the place where she didn’t talk; she was in and out of consciousness. Amanda was able to be moved by wheelchair and everyday she asked if she could go sit with Danie, so Eli put a comfy recliner chair in his mom’s room for Amanda and she sat in there for hours on end, every day. She would tell stories that she remembered, and what she didn’t remember she made up. There were a few times when Amanda said something funny and Eli would laugh, and when he looked over at his mom, she was smiling, Eli thought he and his mother were doing the good deed for Amanda, but as it turned out she was doing a greater deed for them. Amanda knew what it was like to be all alone, and she didn’t want Danie or Eli to ever feel loneliness.
Danie passed away five weeks after Amanda moved in. Losing his mother was the most difficult time in Eli’s life. He and Molly really leaned on each other during their time of grief, and Amanda began to spend most of her time in bed. It was as if while Danie was alive, Amanda tried hard to be strong enough to spend time each day with Danie, but now that Danie is gone Amanda can just rest. She survived Danie by only three weeks.
Hospice continued to work a small crew out of Eli’s home even after they found a new facility to lease, and the Bridge of Love organization has moved in numerous Hospice patients when there are no family members to help with the patient’s care. Eli has never felt more fulfilled in his life, and he continues to refer to the Bridge of Love as his mother’s lifelong dream that was fulfilled with her son.
The live-in aide, Bethany, also stayed, as she and Eli got married a year and a half after Danie died. Danie would have loved to have seen her twin granddaughters, Danie (Danielle) Molly and Marquee (Marquette) Amanda Berkashem. Eli will raise his daughters to know what a loving and giving grandmother they have. Though Danie has passed away, her influence will forever live on through Eli and the organization that they founded together; the Bridge of Love Home; where no one will ever be lonely.
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