February 15, 2010
Bed 22 taught me appreciation for life. Yesterday he passed. Today the unit was different.Dino was there looking to talk along with Jane who I haven’t told you about and many others but life was different. I didn’t walk down the hall. I stayed in the main area chatting with people.
Bed 22 not only reflected on his hard life with appreciation and suddenly hummed parts of tunes like “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” in the middle of a conversation, he was appreciative for the opportunities in his street life to walk into a Catholic church and drop $5 in the box. “Pretty nice, huh?” he’d say.
A woman took him in later in life and loved him. I am unclear on whether they were married or not and I think that is my hang up because I don’t think those were issues for them. But she got him going back to church and he loved her. The greatest honor in his life was walking with her the 15 years that cancer slowly ate away her body.
Yes, I learned appreciation from bed 22 and I am appreciative that I knew him. He was a blessing to me.
February 13, 2010
The resident in bed 22 arrived in November 2009, believing he would die of leukemia perhaps by the end of the week. He is still with Sr. Wantabee visiting regularly. Today, February 12, 2010, he was a skin covered skeleton, too sick to open his eyes or acknowledge her presence.
His first reflections were reflections of gratitude. He reflected that it was good that his father had beat him and kicked him out in the streets when he was eight. It made him tough and taught him how to take care of himself. He used to walk the streets with his paper route and collect the kids for Sunday school by singing “I Come to the Garden Alone.” Sister Wantabee, do you know that song? Could you sing it?”
Sister Wantabee remembered back to Pat Boone singing the song on a record in the 60’s. She had it memorized. When she met her husband who had been raised in Africa, he had learned that album too. They sang the song together as they drove their children home from boarding school every quarter. In fact, the piano player of that song had gone to her church. Memories flooded her mind as she gently sang the song to Bed 22 who lay, enjoying his memories.
A crusty, seasoned steel worker who “lived life in the fast lane” joined hands with Sister Wantabee who lived her life sheltered by her faith and the two worshipped together in music.
Bed 22 is still with us and she visits him when on duty and he still teaches her. She always sings “I Come to the Garden Alone.” Their garden is planted in a care center. And the Lord always meets them.