Lisa Litman is my oldest and dearest friend. Lisa, Gene and their son Harry truly need our love and compassion in their commitment to keep Gene home for his end of life palliative care. You may know Lisa from Camp Boiberik, SUNY Oneonta, being a part of RCNS, The Schechter Kehilah (family) or her awesome store “Sign of the Times” which has been an important part of the fabric of Nyack New York for almost 30 years.
Gene was in terrific health until 1994 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This was successfully treated until 2 years ago when unfortunately it metastasized and he is now out of treatment options. In addition, ten years ago Gene was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At first the progression was slow, and he remained active and independent. In recent month’s, Gene’s mental status changed drastically, and we were devastated to learn that his Parkinson’s progressed and now manifested as Parkinson’s psychosis in addition to the physical debilitation. To see such a vital, vibrant strong man succumbing to this illness has been heartbreaking. This disease soon ravaged both his body and his mind and now has confined his once active strong body to a wheelchair, requiring support with all aspects of daily living.
In August of 2017, the family made the very difficult decision to place Gene on Hospice care at home. Hospice provides a home aide 1 & 1/2 hours a day, 5 days per week, and The VA (Veterans Administration) provides 9 hours of care per week. The financial and physical responsibility for providing care for Gene has been enormous and has exceeded Lisa and Gene’s resources. In addition - Lisa has had to drastically cut her hours at Sign of the Times, which has caused the business to suffer, and has added undue stress at this pivotal time. Every hour Lisa is not working, she is home caring for Gene. There is no respite for her and due to the rapid progression of his illness, Lisa will need more help caring for Gene at home. This will cost $1000 per week.
The moment I met Gene Reitsky, I knew he was something special. He and Lisa followed their hearts and created a beautiful life together. All of us who know Gene, Lisa and Harry know of their constant kindness, generosity and commitment to the community and those in need, whether it was building a playground for Harry’s preschool, supporting local environmental groups or assisting friends. The Litman-Reitsky’s have always been there for everyone. Now is our time to help assist them in their time of need.
Watching Lisa and Harry care for Gene is honestly profound. The love, compassion, grace, sense of humor and dignity they have bestowed on him while taking care of his every need is beyond words. How many 18 year olds do you know that could love so fully and unconditionally? I know it wasn’t easy for Harry to leave for college this past summer, and one of the highlights of his semester was Lisa bringing his dad to Ithaca to visit. They all shared the weekend of a lifetime.
Please - I urge you to contribute what you can to keep Gene in the arms of his loving wife, son and friends. Help provide them financial, physical, spiritual and emotional support at this intensely personal and crucial time so Gene can live out the rest of his time with his loving family.
“And in the end….the love you take…is equal to the love you make” Lennon/McCartney
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