Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HEALTH (10/13/16)
- TITLE: Through Miss Violet's Eyes
By Donna Powers
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But I didn't go to the game today. I went to Miss Viola's house.
I'm a hospice volunteer and Miss Viola was my first patient. We have to complete a volunteer project before we graduate high school. I couldn’t decide, so my Mom signed me up to volunteer at the hospice where she works.
I wasn't happy. I knew hospice is for really sick people, and I don’t do well with sick people. I went to a training class and learned what to do. They told us hospice patients are expected die soon, and that freaked me out. I believe in Jesus. I believe I'll go to heaven. But thinking about being with dying people made me feel weird.
They told me Miss Viola has problems with her lungs and that's she's blind. When I got to her house, the first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. She doesn't play music or even have a TV. The only sound was the hiss of the oxygen, moving through plastic tubes and into her nose.
Miss Violet’s face was creased with wrinkles. Her skin was as thin and pale as paper. I was surprised to see she wasn't anxious– like I thought a dying person would be.
I was really scared, but I told her my name and asked what I could do for her.
“Oh, child, you sound frightened. I won't hurt you!” Her voice sounded like a rusty gate.
I gulped. “Oh, I didn't think that, ma'am!”
“Nonsense, child,” she chuckled. “I know nerves when I hear them. Just tell me what frightens you.”
Finally I blurted, “It's just - you're the first really sick person I've ever talked to.”
She laughed. Her shoulders shook. Her laugh started out high and airy, but soon changed to hoarse coughing, and her face darkened. I reached my hand out and raised the head of her bed. Slowly, her color went back to normal.
“Sick?” she laughed. “I'm not sick!”
I felt confused. “But …. they told me you're ….um,” I couldn't finish.
She smiled again. “Oh, child. I'm not sick. I'm just dying.”
Now I was even more confused. “But, Miss Viola... your lungs... and the oxygen..?”
“Well, child, that's true. My lungs have been failing for years, and my eyes stopped seeing long ago. But sickness is a state of mind. My body will soon shut down, but my soul is alive, and I'll soon take the next step in my eternal journey.”
At least I understood that. “You mean heaven – right?”
“Yes, I’m saved, by the grace of Jesus. How about you, child?”
I answered, “Yes, Miss Viola. I'm saved.”
All of a sudden, being with her was easier. “What can I do for you, Miss Viola?”
“Why, there's not much of anything I need,” she answered. “My eyes may be blind, but my soul can clearly see our Savior's face. My body is weak, but when I pray I feel as though He and I are walking together.”
I sat quietly for a few minutes. Then, she said, “well, there’s something I've wanted a while, but I doubt you want to root through my closet.”
“I don't mind,” I answered. There was a comforting smell in that closet: like sunshine mixed with old perfume. It reminded me of how it feels to wrap up in a warm blanket on a snowy night. It took about an hour before I found the shoe box, and I carried it to Miss Viola.
Her hands slowly pried the lid open. Inside was brush that looked like a baby porcupine and smelled like aftershave. She brought the brush close to her nose, then slowly inhaled. Then, she sighed.
“It's my Frank's shaving brush,” she whispered. “I love it, because it reminds me of him.” Her eyes glistened with tears and she thanked me.
We didn't do much else, that afternoon. I read the Bible for a while, and helped her eat lunch. But I wasn’t afraid anymore, and I thanked the Lord for the ability to see life through Miss Viola’s eyes.
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