Dr. Jacobs could do only so much for Judy. At 91, she was plagued by heart and blood pressure problems just to name a few. Balancing her medications was a tightrope act. During repeated bouts of illness, Judy’s cheerfulness kept everyone around her upbeat. She loved to share her favorite Bible verses: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 HCSB) She also quoted Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven,” she’d say, reminding us the Bible includes time to laugh and dance.
Last autumn, Judy was hospitalized for the fourth time in a year. Her heart was racing furiously, and she’d passed out at home. A friend who was visiting with her called 911. Now, after she’d been admitted, Dr. Jacobs and a nurse were checking her.
Judy asked, “Dr. Jacobs, when I go home, can you prescribe ballet lessons for therapy? My heart’s not beating too fast, I think I’m just moving too slowly. Besides, the therapy you prescribed last time nearly bored me to death. You don’t want to be responsible for boring me to death, do you?”
The doctor chuckled, “Ballet lessons? Do you have a tutu?”
She laughed aloud. “Oooohhh-kayyyyy… let’s make that square dance lessons!”
“We might just have to see about that,” he said with a wink.
“Did you see that, Nurse? Dr. Jacobs winked at me! When I get out of here, I’m going to talk him into auditioning with me for ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ I think we can win if he can keep up with me,” Judy chuckled.
I met Dr. Jacobs at the door to Judy’s room as he was leaving. With no immediate family, she’d named me her emergency contact. “How’s our patient?” I asked.
“Cheerful as always— but her heart rate’s off the chart. We’re trying to prevent cardiac arrest.”
“I’ll try not to excite her,” I said seriously.
“Does her pastor know she’s here?”
“I called Pastor Phil on my way over.”
“Good,” Dr. Jacobs replied. “I’ll check back later.”
Judy smiled broadly when I arrived. I kissed her on the cheek. “Hi, Pretty Lady. I brought your necessities,” I said, holding up a canvas bag.
“Great,” she said, “Put them on the window sill so I can see them.”
I took out a few personal items including a stuffed green frog wearing a plastic crown. She’d named him “Prince Charmin.” She loved to explain his name by saying, “I don’t know how many times I kissed that frog hoping he’d turn into a handsome prince before I finally figured out his name was ‘Prince Charmin,’
not ‘Prince Charming.’ It’s amazing how much difference one little letter can make.”
Our pastor tapped on the door and peeked in.
“It’s about time you got here, Young Man,” she admonished. “You need to remind these doctors and nurses that dying simply means living in Heaven instead of here! And, at my age, I’m ready for Heaven. I don’t need all this stuff,” she said holding up her frail hand bandaged with an IV.
“Judy, if I know you, you’ve already informed them,” Pastor Phil replied. “Besides, when Jesus calls you home, these machines won’t prevent it.”
“You’re right about that,” she smiled. “Would you read me some happy verses? Start with John 14 and then read Romans, chapter 5.”
Pastor Phil gladly obliged. He concluded with Romans 5:3-5, “…we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance; endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.”
Judy smiled. “Thinking about Heaven is AMAZING! And I like being reminded that my aches and pains are also for a purpose---to give me hope and make my heart happy. I think that’s why it’s beating so fast now,” she smiled. “It’s so happy, I’m just sure it’s dancing! You don’t mind it dancing, do you pastor?”
“No, I really like that illustration,” Pastor Phil laughed.
That night, Judy’s heart simply stopped beating, and she died quietly and, appropriately, with a smile lighting her face. I adopted “Prince Charmin,” and he now sits on my desk, reminding me of her cheerful attitude. I know Judy is experiencing the pure joy of being with Jesus now, and, perhaps, she’s even dancing with the stars...the heavenly stars.
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