My Free Day
It was my free day. A day set aside each week to visit my elderly friend in the nursing home.
Emma Green had come into my life when I was in my late thirties. She had been a volunteer in my office for several years between 1987 and 1995. Our relationship had blossomed immediately. Her children lived across the country and due to finances they didn’t visit often. So, she became a special friend to me.
Emma was eccentric, independent, and somewhat bossy. All of these traits just added to her charm and I delighted in every moment we spent together. My husband adored Emma and enjoyed having her included in our family gatherings.
Once when she failed to meet the senior citizen van for a ride to a volunteer center, the driver called me with great concern. I rushed over to Henry Greene Apartment Complex. This location was not the best part of our city,and I had concerns about Emma living there. She had told me many times in no uncertain terms that Henry Greene had been her home for more than thirty years and she felt completely safe there.
I knocked several times on the front door, but there was no answer. I walked around the side of her apartment to the back door. To my surprise, the back door was opened just a crack. The temperature was about 30 degrees. My anxiety jumped a few notches as I entered. What was I about to find in Emma Green’s apartment?
Slowly I made my way through the kitchen which was full of potted plants and flowers many still in bloom. I walked across the small cluttered living room and turned to go up the narrow stairs which were stacked full of old newspapers. The smell was musty and stale. I called out to her several times, but there was no answer. Step by step, I ascended the stairs. My heart was pounding in my ears when I finally reached the top. Across the room at the top of the stairs, I saw Emma’s bed, but I didn’t see Emma. Once again, I mustered my courage and called out, “Emma!”
Suddenly the bed shook and the heavy quilts were tossed about. Slowly out of the deep feather bed came Emma……fighting to gain her freedom from the feathers and the quilts. Her white, thin hair covered half her slender, wrinkled face. With one hand she moved her hair and with a smirk she said, “thought I was dead didn’t ya?”
My heart was racing. I didn’t know what I had expected to find. I was so relieved that I started laughing and so did Emma. All I was thinking is how funny we each must have looked to the other. But, I was inwardly very grateful to find out she was okay. There remained one question that I had to ask. Why was her back door open on such a chilly morning? With a look that said are you stupid she replied, “so my pet green frog can come in.”
My expression revealed how dumbfounded I was because Emma said, “he’s been living here more’n three years now, eat’n all the bugs off my flowers. He’s a good ole friend. I’ll show him to ya if ya want to see him?”
Time marched on. Emma had to give up her apartment in the Henry Greene Complex and move to a nursing home. She made a good adjustment to her new living arrangements, and together we decorated her room. Her favorite past time was sitting by the window watching the flowerbed bring its surprises throughout the year. In early spring, she waited for the daffodils and paper whites to poke their green heads up for a first glimpse spring. Butterflies and hummingbirds were frequent garden visitors to Emma’s delight.
My free day’s routine continued for many years. Together Emma and I watched her window garden. Green signaling spring followed by a peak of color in summer, ending with the slow fade away of winter. A cycle set in motion by God Himself.
Cycles of life race across the panorama of time. Life springs forth full of energy, thriving, contributing well into the summer and fall. Then life, like a flower, is overtaken by winter’s grip…no longer green….no longer alive in the body of clay, but alive forever in a body…glorified!
My free day is free again.
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