Carrying Miss Lillian
The sun was shining brightly as I arrived at Lillian LeBlanc’s small cottage. The pink geraniums adorning the steps leading to her stained glass door spilled over the clay pot edges. The sweet aroma of jasmine permeated the air. I rang the bell twice, pausing before the third ring…our secret code.
We had a standing appointment for her home health nurse visit on Wednesdays at 10:30 AM, giving ample morning time for Miss Lillian to “be ready to meet the public, honey.” Every strand of hair in place and her favorite shade of lipstick was a must for this 80 year old southern belle!
Hmm…no answer to our secret code. Repeating the code, I heard the faint but incessant barking of her constant companion, Gracie, a cuddly vivacious yorkie. Time for plan B, retrieving the house key under the loose stone of the path to the back porch and door. Miss Lillian had severe arthritis and newly diagnosed diabetes. Perhaps it was her chronic pain slowing her preparation this morning…
Nearing the rear of the cottage, it became apparent that Gracie’s barking was coming from the back yard. My steps quickened as I sensed something was wrong.
“Miss Lillian!” I shouted, turning the corner. Still in her nightgown but sprawled out on the stone path with Gracie at her side, Miss Lillian smiled and whispered,“And what might you be doing here today, Michelle?”
“Remember, it’s Wednesday,” I stated , quickly surveying the damage. Broken coffee cup. Slightly bent cane. Forehead abrasions. Blood seeping from an arm wound. Quite a tumble.
“Are you in pain?”
“Honey, I live in pain; “ow!” is my middle name, ” she replied with a sly grin.
“Let’s get your wound cleaned and bandaged first, Miss Lillian.” Cleansing my hands with antiseptic, the task was completed quickly with supplies from my “little red bag”. No “little black bag” for me; the elderly need a few bright spots in their day and black medical bags don’t qualify!
My attempts to get petite Miss Lillian upright were unsuccessful. With the aid of college student, Josh, who lived next door, she is carried to the comfort of her favorite recliner.
“I was wondering what I’d have to do to get his attention !, ” she quipped.
As I prepared to check her vital signs and blood sugar, I inquired, “ What happened here this morning?”
“Seems a little foggy to me now.” Her blood sugar was low, accounting for her confusion this morning.
“Let’s have some juice to get your sugar up first , ” I stated, hurrying for a cup of apple juice.
“It was such a lovely day I thought I’d take my morning coffee on the porch. The sun was shining brightly and the garden was beckoning…, ” she added, sipping her juice.
“Guess I can’t do steps with a cup of coffee anymore,” she said somberly.
“Wise decision ! Now, is your pain better? Do you need medication?”
“No… a little sore and my arm stings, but other things hurt so much more.”
“Tell me about those things, Miss Lillian.”
“Oh, you wouldn’t want to be bothered with such matters, dear.”
“I’d like to listen.” I pleaded.
“Losing the ability to do simple things, like strolling through my garden with a cup of coffee. Can barely give little Gracie a proper bath… or myself for that matter.”
“It’s hard, I understand.”
“Loneliness…being forgotten…that hurts. Been alone for 25 years with family scattered around the country , except my son Johnnie. Haven’t seen him in weeks…always working.”
Winking, she adds, “You’re the only one I can count on to be here on a regular basis. What would I have done if you hadn’t shown up today?”
“I’m glad I was here to help you,” I said squeezing her hand.
A Bible on the table caught my eye. “I’d like to read something for you, Miss Lillian.”
I opened Isaiah 46:3-4: “Listen to me, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived and have carried you since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.”
Bright blue eyes gazed out the window as streaming sunlight displayed the brilliance of silver strands of hair. After moments of silence, teardrops bounced off Miss Lillian’s wrinkled hands, folded in prayer. Then she turned to me and said softly, “Thank you for reminding me.”
*Isaiah 46:3,4 from NIV
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