This room was larger than the rest. It easily held the six chairs that were placed around the bed. All of her effects had been moved to this room as well. There was a small table which usually held pictures that were important to her life and had embraced her nursing room walls. White-haired, frail and near the end of her time. This lady lay quietly in her bed except for the moments when her eyes awoke and looked about , then slipped again below the surface of consciousness. Noticeably absent were pictures of family. One framed picture stood at the center of the table. Many years ago this picture was taken and framed for all time.The distinction of the picture and what could be read into the picture was significant. He and her in a warm embrace, the dress had been lovingly made, white fabrics delicately formed into a gown from which a lifetime of new memories would follow. A military dress uniform added to the masculinity of the young man to be. A glance of the old woman and the picture coalesced the two into one, that pretty young woman now lay gray in this bed. Pink was her best color, full of life and possibility, followed by white , the transitional color, then the terminal gray as today.
Although I’ve never experienced this assignment before, I knew the main task was comfort and companionship to the end. Swab glycerin to moisten her dry mouth, quietly wash and massage her feet with a warm cloth. Waiting for the angels was the hardest thing I ever did.
I began to hold her hand and talk to her as if I were her only son. As if for tea in the parlor reminiscing the old times, I told her that she was valued and respected by those who knew her and I hoped her lifetime here on earth had proven to be pleasant and fruitful.
Time passed slowly.
As she slept, I wondered about the man in the picture and why no photos of children. Whether it be true or not, I sensed that he did not return from battle those many years ago. Her love so deep that there would be no other. Whether it be true or not, I felt a longing for her to again be with her man.
With a little turn of her head and the tightening of her grasp, her eyes opened towards me. Her stare was muted , but she was there. With a hint of a smile, she drifted away. She had said adieu and now was off with the angels to find her man