St. Elmo's fire is a weather phenomenon that produces an electrical discharge on or around a ship or aircraft during a storm. Regarded as a sign of protection from St. Elmo, the patron saint of sailors, the sailors in ancient times believed this "fire" signified salvation since "the phenomenon occurs most often toward the end of a storm."


At nearly 73 years young, my dad's optimistic attitude has been a steadfast reminder that some good can be found in the bad. For instance, he likes to recall that of all of the flat tires he has ever had, not one has ever happened on a rainy day. And, that time when his tractor wouldn't start? It happened to be parked at the top of the hill, so he was able to coast it into a jump start.

I'm fortunate not only to still have both of my parents, but also to receive their wisdom. In a recent conversation, my dad was discussing his health and how lucky he has been his whole life. Even though he was diagnosed a year ago with an exceptionally rare and aggressive lymphoma that was brought on by decades of immune suppressing medications, the pharmaceuticals sustained his quality of life as rheumatoid arthritis chewed away at his joints.

As we were discussing his treatments, Dad shared that, so far, his system has responded better than anticipated to the new cocktails of chemo and COVID-isolation. His doctor even mentioned that the final stage of treatment could leave my dad free of the arthritis he has battled for years since his new immune system may not know that it was attacking his joints.

In talking with him, I realized that even now we have our own versions of St. Elmo's fire that offer us hope in times of darkness and storms. For Dad, it's hope for treatment that will erase decades of pain. For many of us who work in senior services, throughout the pandemic our shared St. Elmo's fire has been the development and distribution of a successful vaccine. We looked for that "light" with the hope that we could once again return to normal.


"But now St. Elmo's fire appeared, which they had so longed for, it settled...and gave them hope of calmer airs." -- from "Orlando Furioso" by Ludovico Aristo (1516)


Dad was commenting on his experience so far. With a jovial smile, he joked about the "knitting needle" they used to position and install the central venous catheter above his right pectoral muscle for the treatments. He shared, surprisingly, that has not been the worst part. Instead, Dad said, he misses seeing people's smiles--hidden behind their masks--as they help him through his sessions.

To you, our members, and all who are serving and caring for seniors, may your compassion continue to be the St. Elmo's fire that brings peace and calm to others in times of uncertainty.