Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Step in the Write Direction--May 11, 2015--Mother's Last Gift

A Step in the Write Direction
May 11, 2015

Update: So sorry about missing last week’s blog. When I called my doctor for an appointment last Friday morning, I was coughing so hard, they told me to come in that day. When I did, they sent me to the E.R., and then admitted me with pneumonia. I tried to talk them into a 24-hour stay, but it didn’t work, so I was in till Wednesday. Super good care (it helps that two of our children work there!). The poem below reminds me of a day several years ago when our family was going through multiple health issues (husband with all his, daughter with an insulin pump, son-in-law with MS). A friend called and said, “Does it seem like the rivers are overflowing?” Just then Isaiah 43:1 came to me and I replied, “No, I have flood insurance.”

A happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, and to all the other women. As our song leader said this morning, “Even if you aren’t a mother, you had one, so you can celebrate.”

Thought for Today:
(See Isaiah 43:1-2)

"When Thou passest through the waters,"
Deep the waves may be and cold,
But JEHOVAH is our Refuge
And His promise is our hold:
For the LORD Himself hath said it,
He the faithful God and true:
"When thou comest to the waters,
Thou shalt not go down, but through.
—Annie Johnson Flint

Song for Today:
My mother’s old Bible, her treasure divine,
So dear to her heart and so precious to mine,
Each day growing sweeter, more fadeless and new,
My mother’s old Bible so precious and true.
My mother’s old Bible is true,
My mother’s old Bible is true,
My guide to that shore where I’ll meet her once more,
My mother’s old Bible is true.

                        D.M. Shanks, “My Mother’s Old Bible”

Laugh for Today:

Instead of Writer’s Tips, I’d like to share this story about my mother in honor of Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Last Gift

“The nurses on this unit are a special breed,” I said to the uniformed woman who gently changed the IV on my mother’s arm.

“No one is assigned to the cancer ward,” she replied. “We’re all here because we want to be.”

She went on to explain. “On the surgical wards, we generally see a patient just once, then they’re released. We don’t have a chance to get acquainted with them or the family. Here it’s different. In many cases, the patients go home, then, as the disease progresses, they return for a longer stay, so we get to know them and their family members as well."

This was my ninth 2,000-mile-trip in eighteen months to see my mother, and the way it looked, it would be my last time to see her alive. The night before she had slipped into a coma and she now did not recognize any of her children or grandchildren who visited often.

But the nurses knew us! And they were a special breed. During the day we could go to their lounge at any time and pour a cup of hot coffee or tea, or choose between a variety of drinks in the refrigerator. And every night when we got off the elevator, we followed the smell of popcorn to my mother’s room.

“Who buys all these treats?” I asked a nurse one day.

“It comes out of our own pocket,” she answered to my amazement.
* * *
After three weeks, my sister and brother had to return to their homes in other states, but I remained, still hoping for a miracle.

One afternoon I was talking with the ward clerk who was a friend of the family. “Your mother is so special to all of us,” she said. “All the times she’s been in here, she’s never complained and she has such a sweet spirit.”

We chatted for awhile, then my eyes spotted a vase of flowers sitting on her desk.

“What a beautiful plant,” I said as I reached up to touch it. “Mother has such a green thumb. She’d love this one.”

“We hate flowers!” she said bluntly. “Every time someone dies, the family brings up flowers from the funeral. It’s just a reminder to us that no matter how hard we try, there are some lives we just can’t save.”

I had never thought of it that way before but I could understand their feelings.

* * *
Three days after my sister returned home, I, too, had to go. It tore me apart to tell my mother good-bye and to realize that she probably didn’t even know I was leaving.

A week later I got the dreaded but not unexpected message: “Mom’s gone.” Another 2,000-mile flight.

The day after the funeral, my elderly stepfather said, “Let’s take some of these flowers to the hospital.” I agreed, then, remembering what the nurse had told me, I shook my head, explaining the reason.

“But I want to do something for them,” he insisted.

“And I know just what you can do!” I exclaimed.

Later that afternoon, I stopped at the information desk in the hospital lobby and asked if I could borrow one of their flower carts.

My stepfather and I went downstairs, and a few minutes later, we returned to the cancer ward. Getting off the elevator, we wheeled the cart down the hall and into the staff lounge where two nurses stood talking. Their eyes grew wide when they saw the grocery sacks. Then tears came to their eyes as we unloaded cans of coffee, boxes of teabags, bags of sugar, and jars of coffee cream. Other bags contained popcorn, salt, butter, and a variety of drinks.

“No one’s ever done this for us before,” one of the nurses said in disbelief.

“My mother would have wanted it,” I told her. “We don’t want you to look at flowers and be reminded that she died. Instead, every time you reach for a cup of coffee or tea or make popcorn, we want you to think of her and be reminded that she lived. This is her last gift to you.”

 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

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  1. Donna: I love the story of your mother's last gift.I'm sure the nurses never forgot it.

  2. Thank you! We also did this at a hospice after my uncle died there, and they appreciated it as well.