A dimly lit room at 2:23 a.m. One tiny lamp on the night stand. A fine-boned beautiful woman is lying comfortably on her bed. Her white hair is tousled, her face and neck wrinkled. She’s in that special place that none of us know. What is she seeing? What is she thinking? There’s been no response for days.
The clunk of the oxygen tank beats in a slow rhythm. Slight odors of a damp cloth on her forehead, the lotion standing on the bed stand, the half-eaten bucket of cookies, and the coffee pot on the cart.
As I look around the room, I notice things. I’m curious to get a glimpse of what her life was like on this earth during her active days.
One of the first objects that popped out at me, was the little orange devotional book sitting on a far table on the other side of the dear lady. Someone “calling” must be a comfort to her or her family members.
There’s a banner on the wall, that says,
“Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, Thank God.”
There on the shelf, sits a shiny mother-of-pearl praying hands, behind that peeks a black and white picture of a smiling young lady and handsome man. They’re looking at each other with shy excited smiles. The man has a corsage on his suit and she has a nice dress, a fancy hat, and a bouquet in her hand with streamers flowing down. There are rows of unlit candles behind them cascading in a diagonal line. It could have been the “going away” picture after their wedding. That young couple might have skipped to their shiny car, only to be chased by their friends, and a “shivaree” may have followed.
A vase of purple and white flowers a little past their prime, stand right in front of the black TV screen. She liked flowers…there are several baskets of them scattered around the room. Silk, plastic, and even a bright pink one hanging near her bed.
Slightly behind me to my left, is a huge tack board full of pictures. I imagine they’re pictures with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It is plastered with smiling people. Some seem to be her, holding her treasured little ones on her lap. A proud granddaughter donning a cap and gown, as she pulls her grandma close. Boys with soccer balls, football outfits; girls with pink bows, cute hats. A birth announcement of a baby boy. Even a yellow Labrador dog gave his unconditional love. A beautiful young gal recently married, with a huge handful of red roses. One appears to be a four-generation picture; a mother, with her son, granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter. Many happy occasions captured on one bulletin board. Snapshots of a life with loving family members.
A picture of a uniformed woman in her early twenties, and an award on the board indicate her service in WWII. My mind goes to her possible age…has to be in her late eighties. What a brave woman. I silently thank her for serving. It was a much more rare thing for a woman to give herself to the country in the 1940’s in this way than it is now days.
Oh, the stories this dear woman could tell. I sure hope she lived life to the fullest, laughed often, and told many.
Occasionally, I set the keyboard to the side to gently touch her shoulder, and speak some words of comfort to her. Her chest still rises and lowers. Her pattern of breathing is not even, but not labored. Two family members have gone to try to sleep a few hours. They knew that volunteers would be by her side through the night. I wonder if they are able to rest. They left their names and numbers on the nightstand. This grand woman is very treasured.
If this night is her journey’s end, may peace and joy await her. It looks like she had a full life. Death is a strange and mysterious time.