NARROWSBURG NEWs

A lonelier Christmas

By Greg Triggs
Posted 11/4/20

Each year during the Narrowsburg Tree Lighting Parade, Mr. and Mrs. Claus look as though they stepped out of a storybook. As it turns out, there was no need to go to the North Pole. The storybook was …

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NARROWSBURG NEWs

A lonelier Christmas

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Each year during the Narrowsburg Tree Lighting Parade, Mr. and Mrs. Claus look as though they stepped out of a storybook. As it turns out, there was no need to go to the North Pole. The storybook was only 8.77 miles away in Yulan, at the home of honorary elves George and Debbie Kane.

Together they’d appear at festivals as Gray Beard and his pirate wife, re-enactors at Fort Delaware, and of course, make the arrangements for everyone’s favorite Christmas couple. Unfortunately, that ended on September 30 of this year when Debbie passed away from a stroke. She was 59 years old. Always the holiday couple, October 31 would’ve been the Kanes’s 10th wedding anniversary.

When hearing about Debbie from her grieving husband, a theme of community involvement quickly emerges. An RN for many years, she served in the United States Air Force and with a variety of health care providers including Walter Reed Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Sullivan County Community Health.

Born in Morocco, Debbie worked as a nurse in Egypt, France, Israel and Maryland before moving to the Tusten area 17 years ago.

Always the nurse, her re-enactment Fort Delaware character gave talks on food as medicine and other era-appropriate wellness topics. Appearing there for over a decade, she and George brought history to life for thousands of visitors.

Some might say they were joined at the artificial hip Debbie nursed George through. They often went together on volunteer EMT calls where patients were lucky enough to find a registered nurse waiting for them in the ambulance.

Yet it seems the health care and support systems Debbie served were too limited when she became the patient. As diabetes began to take its toll, she applied for a disability pension. It took two years to be approved. Once the payments finally started, the couple lost their Medicaid coverage. Her Medicare “spend down” costs, a formula which factors coverage versus income, were too high. Her insulin supply was interrupted. Health issues and money began to spiral out of control. 

According to the latest data available on the New York State website, 18.3 percent of the adults in Sullivan County are without health insurance of any kind. Others who have help go over their yearly allotment of benefits or have “spend down” issues similar to those of Mrs. Kane.

How can you avoid a similar situation? Educate yourself about health care reforms such as the public option. Vote for people offering plans instead of platitudes. Help loved ones navigate the health care system. Bureaucracy can easily overwhelm the elderly or frail. Make a difference for your loved ones and in doing so protect yourself from needs that might seem unimaginable today.

Debbie was a loving wife, sibling, stepparent and friend. Her generous heart improved the lives of many. Let’s all learn from her example. Bills related to Debbie’s health care and passing can be supported by visiting www.GoFundMe.com and searching Help for George and Deborah Kane.

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