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I Saw The Face Of God
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This is a story of a remarkable man, locked in a body disabled by muscular dystrophy. When we met him he was in the last stages of the disease, and died a few months later. Although he was held captive by a useless body, his spirit could not be imprisoned. In this man I saw the face of God.
My husband and I had been invited to visit him. Reluctantly we went, dreading the visit. What would we say to him? How could we bring cheer to him, a man so crippled that he could not move without help? My mind traveled back to the only time I had ever seen a quadriplegic before. The man of my memory was a bitter twenty-one-year old, whom I had been assigned to care for in an extended care hospital. I dreaded every time I had to step into the room. He was rude and verbally abusive. I remember telling myself at the time that he couldn't be blamed. However, it was still an unpleasant experience.
But I need not have worried with this man. Intending to stay but a few minutes, we spent a wonderful two hours or more with him. When we finally left, we were the ones who were cheered.
He met us with profuse greetings, and when our introductions had been made, he directed us to view the pictures that surrounded his bed. He told us of his wife. How he loved her! And it was because of his love for her that he asked her to divorce him so that she could get on with her life. Bursting with pride for his children, he told of each of their accomplishments. When we asked him who the young man in the hockey uniform was, he proudly, but with no trace of bitterness, explained that at one time he had been an ardent hockey player.
And then, with a special pen-like instrument, which he held in his mouth, he manipulated it to a key on his computer. With difficulty--at least it appeared that way to us--he hit a switch that turned on the light above his bed. Then he pushed another button on his keyboard, and the word processing program on his computer came on. He was writing a book on his life. He informed us that he had also written several articles on the rights of the minorities, and on the many things he saw wrong in society.
A few minutes later, he said, "Excuse me." With the instrument, he pushed another key. A nurse came into the room. It was time for him to be helped to the bathroom. Our visit with Bill was over.
Accompanying us outside the room, the nurse told us that Bill was her favorite patient. "He never complains," she said, "and at time he has several of us staff members doubled over with laughter. It is a joy to have him in our care."
My husband and I were both so impressed with this remarkable visit that it will stay in our minds forever. It inspired the following poem.
"A quadriplegic," they had called him that day, and the vision of him will not go away. He lay there inert, without use of his limbs, held firmly a prisoner by the body he's in. For most of his day he lies flat in his bed, awaiting assistance to get dressed, or be fed. With pen in his mouth, on his special P.C. he pushes a key button for lights, or T.V.
Our minds were in turmoil as we came near his room, expecting to find a sad creature of gloom. We could hear our hearts beating as we pushed at the door, both wishing that somehow we could drop through the floor. But wait! We're mistaken.
This can't be the place. The man in this bed has a bright, radiant face.
"Come in, my good friends," he said with a smile, "I'm so glad you have come to visit awhile. "Don't be bashful," he said. "Let me show you my realm."
His remarkable wit had us quite overwhelmed! The walls all around him displayed his great pride: many pictures of family, of him and his bride.
'Though his body was useless; his mind was alert. On numerous topics he'd become an expert. He talked about hockey, football, and the fights. He expounded on politics, minorities and rights.
We'd intended to stay just a moment or so. It was two hours later that we stood up to go. Never once had he mentioned his incredible pain, but we plainly could see he was under great strain.
As we said our good-byes, a thought came to my mind: "Supposing he'd left, and I'd stayed behind." Would I lay there seething, bitter, and rude? Or would I, like this man, show a Christ attitude?
Copyright 2002, Helen Dowd
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Janice S Ramkissoon
16 Jun 2014
You described that scene so well that I felt I was in that room with you. It reminded me of a scene on 'Highway to Heaven'. Thank you for sharing this one Helen. Gob bless you and Hart for spending time with Bill.
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