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Blessings In Reverse

Story ID:7924
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Butte Mt. USA
Year:1996
Person:Kathe & Pauline
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Blessings In Reverse
by Kathe Campbell

Her loud and unruly children rolled her like a shot into the hospital transitional care day room just before the Super Bowl party commenced. Slumping awkwardly in her wheelchair, she seemed puzzled over all the fuss. The scene reminded me of a bunch of selfish and uncaring kids relegated to Sunday visits with their mother while football out-scored family devotion.

Recovering from complications when an elk careened through his windshield in the fall, my husband, Ken, had asked me to come early to meet his fellow convalescents and their loved ones. Our hospital staff and volunteers had prepared a delectable table of melons, meats and salads along with punch and a fancy football cake for the fifth floor patients and their families.

Suddenly I noted the lady in the wheelchair was quite alone. The couch in front of the big screen TV where her kids had parked with brimming plates was suddenly empty. The lady had no party food and it appeared her family had left her high and dry. The nurse sadly confirmed my suspicions stating that Pauline's children had little patience with their mother's stroke and had left to watch the game in a bar down the street. My jaw dropped.

"Those big kids should be spanked," I blurted out in utter disdain, not caring a fig what others thought. Ken gave me one of those husband looks indicating this was none of my business, but my anguish persisted - I couldn't help it.

Ken was busy talking gold mining with a fellow, so I boldly pulled out a chair at Pauline's table and sat down. We seemed of similar vintage, though her stroke had rendered her quite helpless. Her head drooping on her chest, and right arm hanging limp, she seemed incapable of uttering even a grunt while knots and snarls quivered atop her tousled hair. I introduced myself as Ken's wife and asked if she would care for a plate of food. Her surprised and tearful, pale eyes met mine with a definite yes.

After tying a cowboy kerchief-style towel about her neck, I served up a small plate and Pauline dove in, grappling up each morsel in her claw-like left hand. With some help she was even able to drink a small cup of lemonade, emitting a big ahh after each sip. A cozy feeling crept in deep down watching this dear woman finally having a nice afternoon.

I asked the nurse concerning Pauline's rag-tag hairdo and she brought a cup of water, some snarl-eze, and a small brush. Just why no one had seen to her coiffure was a mystery, but I reined in my thoughts. The nurse and I took turns combing and gently brushing the tangles until Pauline's curls were smooth and shiny. Her old perm began to take shape as we patted her head with a towel and scrunched strands with our fingers. What a joyous sight watching this lovely lady peering so approvingly into a hand mirror.

Seated beside Pauline, I slowly enunciated about my husband's accident while helping her spoon up bites of cake. She pointed a shaky finger at me and nodded inquisitively, so I began speaking casually of my three grown children and eleven grandkids, whereupon Pauline managed a lopsided grin. But now was not the time to crow in glowing terms about our big close-knit tribe.

Suddenly she grabbed at my arm and began a series of tugs and frowns. It didn't take an Einstein to realize she had become alarmingly aware of my conversation piece. I laughed aloud and raised my right hook onto the table just as she let out a dreadful wail. Thankfully, football was so loud nobody paid much mind to the commotion, but Pauline was devastated. I hugged her and whispered in her ear to please not feel badly for me. While demonstrating my prosthetic contraption, pure amazement flooded over her face, and that funny little lopsided grin appeared again as a final tear tumbled off her cheek.

Dear God in heaven, I mused, this sweet soul, in all of her physical frustrations and mental anguish feels an abiding love and compassion for me in spite of herself. In His infinite wisdom, God didn't play favorites. He created hearts of gold in the lame, the wretched, and the downtrodden believers of the world. It had truly been a blessing in reverse, and I thank my lucky stars I was afforded the opportunity to meet this gracious and loving human being. I told myself I would never feel sorry for myself again, and other than one or two exasperating moments, I've held fast. May God be with Pauline 'til we meet again.