Jenny was the last of our visits on the Friday before Christmas. Some of the ladies from the church had prepared baskets for the shut ins and Larry and I had volunteered to drop some off at the nursing home for three of our former members. We didn't have a lot of time so we spent just a few minutes with each of the ladies, long enough to wish them a Merry Christmas and to say a prayer. Jenny has no connections to our church, but there is never a time that we don't stop, speak to her for a few moments and then pray for her. We first became somewhat acquainted with her when she was rooming with one of our ladies. She was difficult and cantankerous back then and probably lonely. So we adopted her, kind of, and always make a point of stopping in, even if just for a moment.
With the three baskets delivered we made a hasty entrance into Jenny's room. This would be short. She was alone, no roommate in sight. She sat in her wheelchair looking straight ahead and seemed to be having a conversation with someone, herself perhaps. Larry spoke first. "Hello Jenny, we came to wish you a Merry Christmas." She looked up at us as if surprised, not quite registering who we were. I never know if she recognizes us from one visit to the next. I suspect not. After the greeting Larry asked if we could pray for her. I had taken her hand, and holding it gently began to rub it softly. At the close she made the sign of the cross. She had told me once that she had been Methodist but I wasn't so sure. "I felt so peaceful when you prayed for me," she said softly. Perhaps these visits did mean something to her.
"I wish we'd brought something for Jenny." I'd felt something while holding her hand and was having trouble holding back the tears. Larry started up the car. "We can pick her up something and come back," he said. I shook my head. "No, we don't have time." But as we started back down the highway I still saw that neat little room, completely devoid of Christmas. A small plaza not too far from the nursing home has a Rite-Aid drug store with a couple of gift aisles and I knew what we needed to do. Fifteen minutes later we were on our way back to the nursing home. Time no longer seemed all that important.
I don't know if she remembered that we had been there not even a half an hour earlier but that wasn't important. I loosed the cream-colored fleece throw from its packaging. We had searched the aisles for what we thought would be the perfect gift for her. The moment I felt the plush softness of the blanket I knew. This was Jenny's.
She watched me open then spread out the present we had brought her. "Do you think you could fold it back up for me?" she asked. I nodded but insisted that first she needed to let me lay it close so she could feel its softness. I covered her with the throw and she began to run her hands through its folds as Larry opened the card and read to her. It was time for us to go. I asked her if she'd like me to fold it for her and lay it on the bed. "Do you think you could leave it here on my lap for now?" I tucked it in a bit deeper, glad that we had returned and silently praying that it would bring her a sense of comfort in the loneliness of that room.
|Larry reading Jenny her card as she holds her gift|