This is the fourth post from a series originally published a year ago on blogspot, dkaysdays.
The next step to receiving a pension required Ira Sayles to submit to an exam by government approved doctors, a Surgeon’s Board. The report of October 5, 1892 indicates that Ira was seen by two of its three members in Washington,DC:
Dr. Hood, President, was absent,
JW. Little, Secretary
CA Davis, Treasurer
From the chart’s history come details that help us in 2009 visualize this elderly man, our ancestor. He was 5’8″, 175 pounds, with a heart rate of 84 and respirations of 20 per minute. His age, curiously, was listed as 65 years. Someone later reviewing the chart had written in 75?
Claimant is somewhat emaciated, pale with flabby muscles. Claims to have suffered from an attack of apoplexy one year ago.which has left him weak with loss of power in right hand. We find no lesion of special sense, no motor or sensory lesion, yet he is tremulous and he says unable to button all his clothing. He is evidently debilitated. to some extent.
Is the subject of right indinch? inguinal hernia, soc of which having passes through external ring is found lying beneath the integuments and is about size of a hen’s egg. It is bodily returnable and easily retrained? by truss. Rate Ten Eighteenths
The heart is irritable and weak and we find a distinct mitral systolic ? but no hypertrophy. No aortic disease. Rate Six Eighteenths.
No other disability
No evidence of vicious habits.
This former Union soldier was, in their opinion, entitled to a 10/18 rating for the disability caused by the Inguinal Hernia, 6/18 for that caused by Disease of the Heart and nothing for anything else.
By the end of 1892 it appears that Ira finally resided in Chase City, Virginia. I see a man, once independent and adventuresome, a hiker and scientist, an urban dweller, now confined to a chair on a farm in very rural Virginia, tended by people he had rarely visited. He was lucky, some would say, to have had a son take him in.
In his letter of March 1893 to Attorney James Tanner, Clifton urges action on the pension, for he is a ” poor man with a wife and several children to provide for; otherwise I would advise my father to take no further steps in the matter. He is however, most certainly entitled to a pension (under the act of June 1890) and he just as certainly needs it. . .”
I would wager that, far from feeling welcomed, Ira felt beholding and a burden to this relative-stranger. Old age confers that fear on all of us, it seems, no matter what era we find ourselves living the human life.