H – Mrs. Dorothy

Yesterday morning (7-19-2015), I woke at 4am.
Momma was in and out of slumber, but peaceful.
I whispered close, letting her know I was going outside to watch the sky change colors.
Then I placed her phone in her right hand, reminding her I had my phone, too, if she needed me.

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A view of the waking eastern sky, as seen from the courtyard of McLeod’s Hospice House.

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“Mama, your phone’s in your hand in case you need me.”

 

Since last Thursday night, momma has wanted to make sure she has her phone in her hand when I leave the room.
I haven’t left The House since Friday.
But the phone in her hand is a comfort, knowing she can call me if I’m not in the room with her.

As I meandered past room 16, and then the next, I noticed a quiet face looking out from the doorway.
The slender woman spoke to me softly and said, “You know mother passed this morning?”
I did not.
But I could see Mrs. Dorothy, her sister, deeper in the room, putting her things in bags.
I stepped inside, embracing the woman, and then walked over to Mrs. Dorothy, who was standing now.
I had never met “mother”, but I could see her still, peaceful body nestled under the covers.
My soul wanted to tell her, “I look forward to meeting you one day”.
Mrs. Dorothy has a soothing voice that is familiar to me.
Like Big Mama from the Disney Movie, The Fox and The Hound.
You know, the owl character?
She is someone I’ve gotten to know over the past week.
We keep the same hours.
When I have found myself sleepless at 3am, I could count on seeing Mrs. Dorothy walking past my doorway.
In the daylight hours of the mornings, I could count on seeing her head out the front of the building with her folding metal lawn chair.
She would sit, almost right at the edge of Cheves Street.
At first when I saw her doing this, I thought she must be waiting on a bus.
No.
She was just enjoying the bustle of the people driving by.
Turns out Mrs. Dorothy has been at The House with her 99 year old mother since July 4th.
Her mother wasn’t sick, really, “just fading”, as she told me.
She had stopped eating. Drinking. Was weak.
Mrs. Dorothy had not left this place since coming here.
Faithful daughter.
Waiting patiently for her mother’s departure from this depot.
We bonded over ShortStop.
She loves dogs.
When she saw ShortStop coming up the walkway one morning, she excitedly waited for us, her lawn chair folded in hand.
As we met her, she immediately extended her hand and allowed Shorty to give her all sorts of tongue lapping lovin’.
Mrs. Dorothy giggled.
And was youthful.
She told me all about her Waffles, as we walked, the three of us. to the front door of The House.
Oh, how she loves her own doggie.
After that meeting, every time Mrs. Dorothy walked past Room 15, she would stop to say hello and ask to see ShortStop.
And if ShortStop wasn’t here, she would ask, “Where’s ShortStop?”
Precious woman.
Precious daughter.
I never saw Mrs. Dorothy shed a tear.
But I did see her shed a lot of love for her mother.
In the way she talked about her.
In her patience.
In her eyes.
When I realized I wouldn’t be greeted by Mrs. Dorothy in the hallways of this place anymore, I felt a new mix of sadness and relief.
I don’t know what that emotion is called when you mix the two together, but I felt it.
I left the two sisters and continued to the courtyard, just beyond the glass outside of momma’s room.

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The air was crisp and light, something unexpected this time of the year.
I leaned back in my chair, admired the depth of the darkened sky, and began to sing.
“Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness,
Morning by Morning, New mercies I see.
All I have wanted, Thy hand hath provided,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
That song has remained in my heart since that morning.
It has become a theme song in Room 15.
No doubt the Father was sharing my view, from right beside me, and behind me, and above me and beneath me,
all at the same time.
I felt His presence so tangibly in that courtyard.
In the peace of His morning.
In the presence of mourning.
Mourning what was, what is, and what is to come in this fractured place.
And ever so gently, He reminded me.
He will never leave.
And will always prepare.
And that mixture of emotions I felt standing in the doorway of the room just past Room 16 with Mrs. Dot?
It’s not a bad thing.
Quite the opposite.
It’s the feeling of Hope, and Love, and the gifts of Mercy and Grace, all rolled up together.
It’s the emotion we have when we lean into the Faith of who exactly the Father is.
It feeds on the emotions of sadness, and exhaustion, and worry
and becomes an enveloping comfort of beauty.
In this place.
Room 15. The House.
There is so much beauty.
God is working it all out for me. For momma.
And showing me through the gifted, anointed hands serving in this place,
that The Journey is a beautiful thing.
Not to be feared.
Because beyond this fractured world lies our Everlasting Home.
I hope to see Mrs. Dorothy’s momma there one day.
And Mrs. Dorothy. One day.

As the time slowly passed, the sky took on color the closer to 5:45am it got,
changing to the Carolina blue, slightly illuminated from beyond the eastern wall of the courtyard.
A crystal color that strikes the “proud to be a Carolina girl” chord in me.
It was only fitting that I viewed the dimming stars in the brightening skies from beneath a Palmetto tree.

I made my way into the common area, and gave into the tease of a Baby Grand Piano I had made acquaintances with earlier in the week.
Softly, I picked may way through a stanza of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, before giving in and finishing it a Capella in the privacy of the still sleeping House.

God is totally Faithful. Totally Loving. And totally Present.

It was a great day at The House.

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