Telephones that ring in the night have a different sound than in the day when their jingling interruption for some announcement or reminder is accepted routine. At two o’clock in the morning there is an agitated element, a strident warning tone; a for whom the bell tolls quality that seems to lurch from the darkness with icy tentacles and drag us from a warm cocoon At least that’s how Dee felt that rainy night when her bedside phone rang.
She recognized the night nurse at the extended care medical facility. All traces of sleep vanished as she sat straight up in the old four-poster bed, a wedding present from Nana Jo.
“What’s happened? Is Lars hurt, or…” She couldn’t say the word.
“No, but there has been a dramatic change. Dr. Smithroe gave orders to send for the family at once.”
1978 was still in its infancy, barely past its celebratory confetti stage, when beautiful dark haired Delano Dawson turned the corner and knocked blond haired Lars Johansson off his feet – literally. She spent a considerable amount of her college time chased by the demands of a part-time job and a full academic load. A campus the size of a small town kept her moving at a swift pace.
Books and papers flew in every direction like escapees who find the cell doors unlocked and the guards asleep. The handsome stranger cushioned her fall. Nothing cushioned his. He stayed on the ground motionless, eyes closed. She knelt beside him, gently shaking his arm, trying not to panic. She was almost sure he wasn’t breathing.
“Oh no…I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please wake up. Don’t die!” Her sweet voice trembled.
Deceased folks do not smile. Lars was grinning from ear to ear.
“Okay, I won’t.”
His long lashes opened slowly and focused on a surprising lovely vision; his future wife.
Over the years, telling the story to the children, he referred to that event as the day he fell in love. Now, over two and a half decades later he lived in a dark and timeless place called unconsciousness. His condition was a mystery to the medical community. Reportedly, he had been working in the yard planting a little tree Dee found at a going-out-of-business nursery. A neighbor saw him sink to his knees and quietly keel over. That was three months ago. His concerned and loyal wife spent most of her time at his bedside. She had a plan.
Dee drove as fast as was safe and legal. The short trip should take five minutes. She would wait to call their grown children after she knew more.
“Please stay green…please,” she begged out loud to the signal up ahead. It refused to cooperate.
She came to a full stop and sat listening to the flap-flap of the windshield wipers. Her thoughts turned to the day she took the little recorder to his room and pasted instructions on the wall above his bed: IMPORTANT! Please leave earphones in place and DVD running.
She knew the mind might sleep but the spirit never does. During a long prayer session for guidance, she couldn’t shake the vision of an IV and the tubing that carries fluids and nutrients through veins. That’s when it occurred to her to infuse the love of her life with a constant supply of God’s Word.
Dee wheeled the car into a parking space near the door. She dashed in the side entrance and down the hall. Dr. Smithroe stopped her outside Lars’ room, shaking his head but not frowning or sad looking. She had no doubt what had happened.
“I have to tell you, Dee, in all my years as a physician, I have never seen anything like this.”
She kept still, waiting for what she knew was coming. Waves of praise and thanksgiving welled up from deep places in her heart she didn’t know existed.
“Say it,” she prompted.
“About an hour ago, Mrs. French found Lars sitting up -- talking. She said he seemed intent on reciting the whole Bible from the in the beginning God created part. He didn’t slow down until the garden eviction.”
Lars rested quietly, knowing his loving wife would show up, for better or worse, just like she promised. His teasing voice was a little raspy but the familiar grin spoke volumes when he saw her.
His eyes twinkled. “Somebody die or something?”
“No my dear,” she giggled with delight, “somebody lived!”
Serious hugging followed.
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