Old Gertrude is still in Millsboro at the GreenValley Terrace. Her nurse called me on Wednesday to tell me that things were not going so well. She said that her family had decided against intervention and Gertrude was failing fast. I wanted to go right away, but there were too many things that got into the way.
When Deborah was in yesterday afternoon, Gertrude was very out of it, and they said that she hadn’t eaten or drank for five days. Deborah sat beside her and talked to her. She came home with eyes red, and couldn’t relate her experiences without weeping.
“Mom, she looked so bad, and I tried to get her to drink, but her eyes are fixed, and she really doesn’t respond.” However, after Deborah left her, the nurses said that she rallied and drank some juice and ate some pudding. After hearing Deborah’s account, I knew that I needed to get in there, so I went later in the evening. She was a little bit more with it. I sat on her bed and held her hand, rubbed her so cold arms and spoke words of love to her. I started the Mennonite Choir CD and sang her the songs of faith.
Before I started any music, I got up close to her fixed eyes and said, “Oh, Gertrude, can you hear the Angels singing?”
She focused for a minute, then said clearly with a direct nod of her head, “Yes!”
I said, “You do? You hear the Angels singing?”
“Yes!” she said again.
“Oh, Gertrude, they are coming soon for you. They are coming to take you home to heaven.” Then she lapsed back into her quiet, semi-stupor. As the evening wore on, the nurses and CNA were so busy and it was getting late. So, I gave her a bath and got her ready for bed. Her hair was full of tangles and food, so I brushed it out, and combed it smooth. I braided it and pinned it up out of her way. She was all pink and clean and orderly and smelled so sweet. I told her then that I needed to go home to Lindaand the rest of the family, that I loved her and that I would be back She was pensive, but agreeable.
I asked the CNA how long she thought she could live with eating and drinking so little. “Honey,” she said, ” some go real fast, but I’ve seen’em last for weeks like this.”
And so we continue to wait. Our prayer is that she could go home to heaven. She loves Jesus, she’s counting on Heaven, and there is nothing to hold her here. . .
~ O, Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
~ O Light that follow’st all my way, I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray, That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
~ O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
~ O, Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead, And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be. ~Albert Lister Peace, 1884