Good nurses do God’s work.
Edna was her nurse when Momma went into the ICU in 2001.
Edna and many others during those eight weeks provided excellent care for Momma…through collapsed lung and subsequent stroke, respiratory arrest, coronary arrest, and hospital psychosis; through chest tubes, surgeries, repeated intubations, and tracheotomy; through step-down, recovery, and physical therapy.
Love kept Daddy at the hospital from before sunup until past sundown every day.
Good friends do God’s work.
During the arduous days he spent in the ICU waiting room, Daddy was surprised that my friends – folks he had never met before – would come and sit with him. They came because of the hospital’s location in Shelby County…but more so because it’s what they do. It’s who they were and are…Liz, Ruth, Ed, Colleen, Kathy, Nick, Beverly, Ricky, Beth, Peggy, Freda, Marion, Betty, Jan, Sarene, AnnMarie, and others. He dubbed Patsy, Paula, and Paulette the “Three P’s”; they worked together in the Teacher Resource Center about a mile down Highway 31…and they kept him supplied with sweet attention and pones of cornbread he would at night crumble into soup…or buttermilk. Valerie and Jerry kept vigil with him, my brother Aubrey, and me throughout that night we were told that Momma had only a couple more hours left with us. The doctor was wrong.
Several weeks and a specialty hospital later, she was discharged, two months to the day of her initial admission.
Love kept Daddy at Momma’s side perpetually during the eighteen months and change before she was readmitted to the same ICU on Labor Day…collapsed lung again. We began gearing up for the duration…the “Three P’s” got their cast iron skillets ready…after all, we’d all been there before.
Two days later, Daddy and I went to see her during the afternoon visiting time…Aubrey was at work.
Intubated, she couldn’t speak, Momma reached for my hand, held it, pointed at me with her other hand, looked into my eyes, and tried to mouth three words I’d heard her say countless times. She let go. Momma reached for Daddy’s hand, held it, pointed at him with her other hand, looked into his eyes, and tried to mouth three words he’d heard her say countless more times. She let go. Then she motioned for Daddy and me to hold hands. We did. Looking into our eyes, she pointed at Daddy and then at me; she repeated the gesture, lowered her hand, and nodded. We let go. I’ve wished a million times that Aubrey had been there. We didn’t know. Looking back, we reckoned that she must have known.
Trena arrived in the waiting room around 4:00 with sandwiches for Daddy and me…it was getting close to suppertime. We only had a minute’s conversation before Momma’s nurse walked in and motioned for Daddy and me. We went with her, and Trena waited.
Her nurse escorted Daddy and me into a smaller, private waiting room. The three of us talked…I called Aubrey…he got there in time…a doctor walked in…the four of us talked….
Love kept Daddy, Aubrey, and me gathered around Momma, telling her ‘bye as she left us.
Distraught, we left the ICU for the last time and there was Trena, waiting, crying with us, still holding the sandwiches. The following night, Kathryn and Frances drove all the way from Columbiana to Maplesville to bring expressions of love from SCHS. In the ensuing days, Mary Gayle kept the library afloat. The morning several days later when I walked back into the library for the first time, a student named Julie walked directly up to me, arms open wide, and hugged my neck real good.
Good friends do God’s work.
Oh. Get this…
Edna was her nurse when Momma went Home at Suppertime in 2003.
Steve Latham – April 24, 2017