Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)
TITLE: 'Tis Better to Give
By Catrina Bradley
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“Hi Carrie, I didn’t think you were working today.” The head nurse looked puzzled.
“I’m not, but Jim and I have exchanged our gifts and had breakfast, so I decided to come spread some Christmas cheer this morning.”
Carrie pulled off her mittens and stuffed them in her pockets as she walked past the front desk to the coatroom. She already knew which residents were expecting family today, and which ones would be alone. She decided to start with Mr. Griffin on Wing A. His wife had passed away this year, and they had no children.
Carrie went from room to room, spending time with each of the residents on her mental list. Besides talking with them, she helped a few use the restroom, rubbed lotion on some aching limbs, and helped look through drawers for misplaced belongings. It was rewarding to take time with these dear people for a change. She loved being a nurse’s aid, but she never had extra time for the residents.
She saved Ada Larson for last. Carrie knew she really shouldn’t have favorites, but this lady was special. She had been widowed for many years, her friends were all gone, and her daughter and grandchildren rarely visited. She was confined to a wheelchair, her body riddled with arthritis. None of this dampened Ada’s attitude toward life at all. She was always quick to point out the silver lining in every black cloud, never complaining. She could barely hold a spoon, but was determined to feed herself as long as she was able. She wanted do all she could for herself; she wasn’t ready to give up.
Carrie tapped lightly on the frame of Ada’s open door.
Ada lifted her eyes from her book. “Carrie! What brings you here today? You have Christmas off this year.”
Carrie walked in and gave her a gentle hug. “I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.”
“Oh, you are such a dearheart.”
Carrie moved aside a large box so she could sit on the bed. “Did you get a Christmas present?”
“Grace sent it. She’s a good daughter to remember her old mother.”
A “good” daughter would drive four hours to visit her mother for Christmas. “Can I see?” Carrie was careful to keep judgment from her voice.
Ada smiled “Yes, of course.”
Carrie removed the lid, and pulled out a beautifully crocheted blanket. “Oh, this is nice. She must have worked hard on it.” Carrie stroked the pale yellow stitches, then hugged the blanket to her. “So soft and warm. I bet you love it.”
“Yes, it’s very nice. I don’t think Grace made it herself, though. She was never interested in learning needlework. I tried to teach her, but…” A note of melancholy crept into her voice.
“I’m sorry, Ada.”
“Don’t be, dear. Grace may not have liked needlework, but she has many other talents. She’s a very smart girl. She owns her own business, you know.” She started perking up again.
“I’ve always wanted to crochet. Do you think you could teach me?”
Ada beamed. “I’d love to! You’ll be able to make something like this in no time.”
“So, how are your grandchildren doing?” Carrie looked at the new photos Grace had sent with the package, and listened to Ada’s boasting about the children.
After chatting for a time, Carrie glanced at her watch and reluctantly stood. “Well, Ada, I really should be going. I wish I could stay longer, but Jim’s home waiting for me. He should have the turkey in the oven by now, and I’ve got to get busy with the rest of our small feast. I’m glad we had a chance to talk today, and I can’t wait to get started on our crochet lessons.”
“Yes, by all means, go home to your husband. Merry Christmas dear. And thank you for coming to visit with me today.” Her voice was cheery, but sadness tinged her eyes.
“Merry Christmas, Ada.”
Carrie retrieved her coat, and was almost to the door when she heard her name. She turned and saw Ada wheeling toward her with the big box in her lap.
“Carrie, dear, I want you to have this.”
“Oh, no! That’s your gift from your daughter.”
“Your kindness today and over the past two years mean more to me than any blanket. Merry Christmas.”
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