Friday early afternoon I got a message from my mother that said this: “Granny fell yesterday AM. Couldn’t get up all day finally pushed button she wears and para med came and broke door. She is in hospital. Dr. thinks heart attack and kidney prob. She is very confused.” She was on the floor one whole day. She would call out “help me, help me” until she had no strength and then she would just sort of lay her head down and sleep. She managed to get a glass of water off her bedside table but other than that she had nothing to eat or drink. She is diabetic, and 97 years old. We all thought she was dying.
My mom, dad and one sister were out of town. My other sister was having a medical procedure done. My aunt’s husband was just getting out of the hospital. In short, I looked around the extended family and saw that I was on! So I threw a bunch of stuff in bags-and as I was flying around the house, grabbing clothes, food, baby toys I was also praying and crying. I remembered a book I read about a young Episcopalian priest whose husband gets caught in their church when it was on fire and is pulled out unconscious. On the ride to the hospital she sits in the back of the ambulance with him and demands of God, you better get down here and help him breathe.
My prayer was pretty similar: an ultimatum prayer. I said, I better make it God, and you better be with her until I get there. You better let her know that though she was alone on that hard floor for twelve hours she is not alone in this world. And I better get to hold her hands and rub those fingers– rough with all the cotton she has picked in her lifetime–with some lavender scented oil. And tell her that I love her. That we love her. And that she can go peacefully. I wanted to love her into the next world.
And thanks be to God we made it. And it turns out she did not have a heart attack and although very shaken by the whole experience, she is physically alright. And she is now gifted with a sense of peace as she moves from her assisted-living apartment into the nursing home this week. She knows that it is time for her to be closer to other people.
Rosetta and I sat by her bedside for many hours, as Richie and Coleman and Perl moved us into the hotel and got dinner. And the next morning we came back and sat with her some more. What an experience just to be in her presence. To help her sit up comfortably and open her cereal box. To bring her a warm washcloth to wipe her face and hands. Coleman cut her a heart for Valentines day and set up a circle of little stones and a battery-operated candle on her bedside table. She processed through the experience with me some-saying that she knows God was with her down on the floor and that she wouldn’t have made it otherwise.
I share all of this to say thank you. Thank you for the prayers-those of you in our Church in the Cliff Facebook group received a message from Scott in real time as we drove to Hillsboro. And thank you for being willing to be vulnerable with each other. Those of you there on Sunday even anointed each others hands with lavender oil. That was the real take home message for me from my time with Granny- a strong desire to just get on with the loving. Not out of obligation or guilt or a sense that we should, but because God is really so there in the loving. There on the floor with a thirsty, tired old woman and there with a young mama who was crying, cursing, and feverishly throwing bags in the back of a Subaru. God is there in our relationships to each other. And sometimes there is so much love that it sloshes over. And our world is parched for this love.
Join us Sunday as we conclude our Godly Play for Grownups series with the Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33). We also will be honoring St. Brigid–patron saint of the pantry, and of midwives and newborn babes. Rumor has it that our newest CitC addition, Aurelia Murcia-Olvera, born on 1/28 to Catalina, Luis and big sister Bela, may make an appearance. We hope everyone can make it to welcome the new life in our midst.
Peace to you this day,