“We’re in room 72,” said Dr. Norris with a smile.
If she didn’t know better, Nurse Florence would’ve thought he was flirting with her. Dr. Norris had just delivered her grandson, Noah, while she assisted with the birth of his granddaughter, Sarah.
But it was his wife who was in room 72. He’d wheeled her down to meet her first grandchild and now they were heading back upstairs.
Dr. Brown approached her friends and colleagues. She turned to Dr. Norris and his wife, laid a hand on his shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry. There’s nothing more we can do.”
Nurse Florence figured she’d best let them absorb their sudden news alone -- the good news of the birth and the bad news of impending death.
“We’re in room 72,” said Nurse Florence to Dr. Norris.
Once again their families were on the same floor of the hospital. Dr. Norris had delivered her grandson, Jonah, the night before. She had just helped deliver his granddaughter, Mary.
But it was Nurse Florence’s husband who was in room 72. She’d wheeled him down to meet Jonah Christian Nobleman III, named after his grandpa, and they were now heading back upstairs.
Once again Dr. Brown approached her colleagues and friends. “I’m so sorry,” she said kindly to Florence and her husband, “but there’s nothing more we can do.”
The scene was all too familiar to Dr. Norris. It had only been two years since he’d lost his wife.
During a coffee break later that week he told Florence, “Thank God I had my new grandchild to love during that difficult time. Babies are all innocence and purity and love -- a gift straight from God.”
“We’re in room 72,” said Nurse Florence to her friend and co-worker, Dr. Ned Norris.
Yet again their families were on the same floor of the hospital. Dr. Norris had just delivered her grandson, Luke. She had helped deliver his grandson, Isaiah, by cesarean section two days before.
But it was her son-in-law who was in room 72. She’d wheeled him downstairs to see his wife and hold his third child. But they were about to head back upstairs.
Nurse Florence and Dr. Norris felt a foreboding sense of de ja vu as Dr. Brown approached them by the elevators. She’d gone downstairs looking for her patient. “I’m so sorry,” she said to Florence’s son-in-law and his loved ones, “but there’s nothing more we can do.”
Nurse Florence thought back to the day Dr. Brown had given her and her husband similar news. It had only been two years, but it seemed like just yesterday.
Later, Florence told Ned, “Thank God I had my grandbabies to love and hold. Those kids were my lifeline during those difficult early days – along with you, my friend.” He had known all too well what she was going through. But this time it was her daughter’s husband. “They’re so young. It seems so unfair. What will happen to my grandbabies, growing up without a father?”
“You’re in room 72,” the hotel clerk told the happy couple. The newlyweds looked up, but somehow they weren’t completely surprised at that number cropping up again. But this time there was no sorrow to mar the happy occasion.
Nurse Florence’s grandbabies had a new grandfather – Dr. Ned Norris!
Now retired, Ned and Florence were both 72. Their first spouses had both passed away in room 72 at Mercy Hospital. They’d known each other for 7 years, but only dated for 72 days. Their first date was to dinner at Shapiro’s Ristorante at 72 West Main Street -- and the total came to exactly $72. “When you’re 72, there’s no time like the present!” said Ned when he asked Florence to marry him. She happily said, “Yes!”
There were 72 people at their wedding. All 7 of their grandchildren participated in the Christian ceremony and mass at the over-crowded hospital chapel. (Their youngest grandson, Matthew, had been born the prior year.) They drove 72 miles to the shore for their honeymoon.
Seventy-two was no longer associated with only painful memories. In a way, it was that number that had brought them together. As hearty Ned carried petite Florence over the threshold of room 72, it was as if God was telling them that more happy times (and sad times), were ahead of them. But now they would go through them together -- as husband and wife.
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