"Would you like some crackers with that whine?"
"Oh, you better stop it right now" Barbara answered playfully.
"Okay, okay...but, seriously, the whining is a little bit over the top today, even for you,"
"Well, I didn't realize it, but keep bothering me about it, and you’ll really hear whining." She joshed.
At that precise moment a huge butterfly flew overhead. It not only was huge, but a strange color, purple, pink and orange.
"Did you see that?" Barbara asked in her inimitable fashion, eyes wide.
"Yes...I've never seen anything like that in my life."
The rest of the day was an average day at the nursing home. Barbara, the director of therapeutic activities, did what she did best, brought smiles to the resident's faces, and was the light of Bel-Air Manor. She was often teased, albeit, in a friendly way, about her sing-song voice. It sounded like whining, even when she wasn't. It was part of the charm of this extraordinary woman who was filled with compassion, and a fervent need to protect "her jewels." Her gift to the residents was the ability to offer unconditional love, and patience while advocating their rights. She was sensational.
== = == == = = == == ==
Nineteen years later…
"I'm going for my operation now," she said, in a low voice.
"You're going to be okay Barbara," I offered in a voice that didn't sound too convincing.
"I don't wanna do this, but I guess I have to..." Her voice held the familiar whine that I hadn't heard since she entered the hospital.
"You're whining, so you'll be okay. I'll be right here with your family when you wake up. We’ll all be right here Barb."
"I love you..." She said as she was being wheeled away.
"I love you too, my dearest friend." I watched with her family until she was out of sight, tears flooding my eyes.
The wait was a long one, over ten hours. She finally received her transplant,the kidneys in place. However, there were complications, and they couldn't stop the bleeding, hence the long delay, she was hemorrhaging and fighting for her life.
A need for fresh air compelled me to get away from the claustrophobic hallways that held a scent of sickness and disinfectant.
Outside, sitting on a ledge, I prayed silently for God's will to be done. In between prayer, I thought of this remarkable woman, and her beautiful soul.
In nineteen years of friendship, I'd never seen her unhappy, cruel, or bitter, despite her illness. She was upbeat, happy, positive, vibrant...and filled with faith. Although she didn't attend a church per se, she believed even more so than some of my church-going friends, and knew God. She was a courageous individual who was generous in all she did.
During my reverie, a huge butterfly appeared overhead, purple, pink, and orange. It lingered for a brief glorious moment before gliding away eventually disappearing into the clouds.
= == = ==
This is a true story...
Barbara passed away on June 13, 2008. Although it's close to five years since her departure, her legacy is all around. It's in the laughter that I share with her daughter, the compassion that reveals itself in certain people, and the love of God that is with me each and every day of my life. She was a once- in-a- lifetime-friend, I’m grateful and blessed for the time we shared as friends, and while working together as a team in the nursing home, and I rejoice in knowing that we'll meet again one day in the future...
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