“It Just Took a While,” she said . . .

elevator

My latest hospice patient was full of stories. Millie started telling me stories the minute I sat down beside her. She grew up on a farm with three sisters, so there were numerous tales of chores, animals, strict parents, and of course boyfriends. The boys would come calling on her sisters, not her. She watched as her sisters dated and eventually married, but she was always more comfortable on her own. “I was sure I’d be an old maid”, she admitted, “It’s what I thought I wanted”… and then she met him.

Andy had returned from a two-year enlistment in the Navy. Back home with his parents in Pennsylvania, he felt lost and didn’t know what to do with his life. His uncle was a farmer in Kansas who needed help with the harvest, so he moved west. Andy and Millie met when they each drove truck-loads of wheat to the grain elevators in the middle of a long, hot summer.

Millie is proof that there’s always space inside us reserved for someone else and a new way of thinking. She had to adjust her heart and her mind to make room for Andy and for the family they might have someday. “It just took a while”, she said, but once she figured out love had finally come calling on HER, she changed her thinking from “me” to “us”. The life journal I wrote for Millie will be shared with 3 children, 6 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren.

A Poem for Millie

Once

she lived inside herself

closed off to the world of affection.

Then

there was a tug at her heart

and a sense of approaching vulnerability.

She felt herself being opened somehow

and she

never found her way back to being closed.

Photo Credit:  Pinterest

Note: Names have been changed

See my other Hospice Stories Here

“I Don’t Know You,” she said…

old woman & shadow of lady

Not one, not two, but three times! That’s how many attempts I made to interview a sweet little hospice patient for the life journal her family wanted written about their mother. The first time we met, I introduced myself and told her I wanted to ask her some questions so I could write a story about her life. She wasn’t exactly rude when she turned away from me, but she made it pretty clear that whatever she was focused on outside her nursing home window was exceedingly more important than I was!

I reported back to her family that my visit had not been productive. They assured me they would talk to her. They would remind her this was something they really wanted her to do.

On my second visit, I again introduced myself and asked if we could talk. “But I don’t know you”, she declared, “why would I want to talk to you?”

Third time’s a charm, right? Wrong! I even asked her daughter to be there too, thinking her mother would be more apt to talk if she wasn’t alone with a stranger, but it was just not going to happen!

After the third rejection, I asked the hospice nurse who visited her each day if she would casually ask some questions about her life and report back to me. Over the next month or so, the nurse gathered stories from her and I collected information and pictures from her family. I was able to write a nice narrative about her journey through life.

Several weeks after the hospice nurse delivered the completed journal to her, I received the most delightful note:

 “Dear Hospice Volunteer,

 Thank you for writing my stories and making my book.

 I will cherish it always. I read it over and over.”  

 I was told that for weeks after she received it, she carried the journal around with her daily and showed it to anyone willing to give her a moment of their time. She expressed a desire to meet “the lady who wrote my book”.

So, I made an appointment to “meet” her. Although it was my fourth time there, she did not remember me. “I don’t know you”, she said…again! I pointed to the journal she had proudly displayed on top of her dresser. “But I know you”, I told her, “I’m the one who wrote your book!” She looked at the journal, looked back at me and graced me with a smile I’ll never forget! “Oh, thank you, thank you!” she exclaimed. Her voice and posture were tired and weary, but her eyes and her smile were forever young!

 

Photo Credit: Bing search