Every Day Should Be this Good

Letters handed to me today from far away Cambodia
Letters handed to me today from far away Cambodia

Even though I did not get a lot of sleep the night before (might have been up late blogging) today was a day I enjoyed and for which I am thankful.  I heard something inspiring and it just happened to be about change. More specifically, about being willing to change things in my own life in order to relate more to other people – to get to know them, to spend time with them, to come to love them.  Sitting next to me at the time was an older man who, it struck me, was a good example of this. He was dressed pretty conservatively, except for his socks which were insanely wild and not shy about being seen.  I surreptitiously took a picture of them with my cell phone when he wasn’t looking but evidently I wasn’t careful enough and got a picture of the inside of my bag instead.  Sorry.  You should have seen these socks.  George H. Bush would have loved them.  This guy was willing to be a bit quirky in order to spark interest, arouse the curiosity of the younger set and enter the world of high fashion. He stepped outside the realm of the average 70-80 year old and I’ll bet some good experiences have come from it. I remain inspired and have some new goals for this week.

Also at this same venue, I was given some letters addressed to me from two very precious women in Cambodia.  One I had never met personally but in her letter she assured me that she knew all about me from others and had been praying for me. Her expression of love and encouragement, in a language not her own, was clear and confident. She is a caretaker in an orphan home in Phnom Penh. She sent a picture of herself.  I can hardly wait to meet her someday.

The other letter was from a teen age girl I have known for several years.  Her family gave her up to live in the orphan home, feeling she would be safer there.  Her father had an alcohol problem and in her culture children in those circumstances are often abused or sold into slavery of one kind or another. She excitedly wrote about how her father had started learning about God, had quit drinking, was helping his wife at home and reading the Bible.  This was a miracle we had been asking God to work out for years.  I could feel her happiness.  Change had brought it.

Lastly, I went to work this afternoon.  My elderly client, Jack, has thrived in his own home over the last couple of months.  He loves to invite people to have dinner with him at his favorite restaurants and tonight it was our turn to be blessed.  I drove him to the Lucky Pelican where we met up with “the husband” for a great meal.  Later, back at his home, I helped him get ready for sleep.  I know it’s part of my job but it’s always a little strange for a grown-up to tuck another grown person into bed. I said “Good night, dear Jack” and he laughed and puckered up for a kiss.  He has changed so much.

Change is at the heart of all these experiences today – our ability to change, and God’s ability to change us.  He made the most miraculous change, giving up his God existence and living like a man, never again to be quite what he was before (becoming more, not less). Change like this is good (for us).  I’m just sayin’ that I’m thankful for everything I’ve become aware of today, thankful there are so many people here on the planet to live with, to love and to pray for. Thankful for change.

Vigil

If a person is a nurse, which I am by profession, it is almost impossible to avoid having to make decisions for people. At the very least one has to know when to influence people to make a decision for themselves that is best for them. Sometimes the decisions are about life or death and the responsibility can be scary and somewhat overwhelming. It just comes with the job. When I walk out the door on my way to work I am most always in a prayerful mode, asking God for the patience to make it through the day and the smarts to know what I am seeing when I look at my clients.  It’s been one of those scary weeks and I am thankful that my prayers are heard and answered.

My newest elderly client (and friend) has been out of rehab and at  home for almost three weeks.  He came home far too soon and needed a lot more help than any of us knew he would need, but we had hopes that his strength would increase and he would thrive. He was so overjoyed to be in his own house and out of the hospital.  I was leaving to visit my parents a few days after he came home, but we managed to get a crew together to be with him almost 24 hours a day.  There were ups and downs as everyone settled into routines. I returned from my time away and began helping with Jack’s care again.

And then this week, there came the morning that he was so short of breath that sitting up on the side of the bed required a rest period.  Trying to get into the car for a doctor appointment was so difficult that we decided to cancel it.  And his own admission that he didn’t feel well and just wanted to lie down finally tipped the balance for me.  Something was wrong and not getting better.  This was the first time I have ever called 911.  It was a good decision.  We were in the ER for the next six hours and he was finally admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure.

There are four of us caretakers for Jack and we are still keeping vigil.  He was moved to the cardiac ICU yesterday. Jack remains uncomplaining, always worrying about whether we have eaten, always trying to send us home to rest and wondering if we’re taken care of.  We have hopes that he will improve and come home again, but there is an awareness of how fragile life is, how quickly things can change and how precious the time is that we have with each other. I’m just saying that vigils can be a bit stressful…