While I was in excruciating pain last weekend, Gardenia started blooming. I have never nursed a plant before or talked to one daily. Until recently, I had not consulted a gardener for specific advice or watched to see how much water this sort of living being really needed. Then finally, after the long season of teasing me with buds and then dropping them, my green friend’s real spring arrived.
But first I started pedaling Her Purpleness (my bicycle) up hills and flying back down in childlike glee. I almost felt young and strong again. I dared bragging on Facebook: “Dammit COVID, you’re not getting the best of me!”
I ignored the niggling ache in my groin until a fiery explosion radiated down my outer hip—full-on bursitis and IT band syndrome, I’m told. Unable to get comfortable in a prone position, I succumbed to the recliner for two nights of fitful sleep. I imagined I would never ride my bike again, all the while hurting, getting fatter and fatter. By Sunday evening I was relying on a cane, not to mention ROB REID, my angel.
Still Gardenia slowly unfurled and her delicious aroma began to waft.
First thing Monday morning while I was waiting for another of my angels—my PCP, Dr Marivic—to call, I answered the landline ring from the Plaza, Mom’s assisted living facility.
“Your mother is more confused than ever. Her pulse…her blood pressure…blah, blah, blah. Should we call 911 or do you want to take her to the hospital?”
I glanced over at Gardenia, gorgeous and nonplussed, basking in the radiant sunshine falling precisely on her gleaming Show-and-Tell.
“I will call you back in two minutes,” I said, knowing I would be driving the 15 minutes, come hell-or-high-water, to get to my Mama, “Our doctor is on the other line.”
I shifted phones, “Marivic, first here is the situation with Mom (fortunately, Mom is also Dr. Marivic’s patient)…”
I will spare you some details as I have retold them sufficiently…to Rob, to my blessed prayer partner, to my study group. Suffice it to say, I could have never arranged or planned the gracious timing to continue as it did. Briefly, after the phone calls and the drive northward:
- The ice/Tylenol/Ibuprofen regimen prescribed by my doctor started working and I’m healing!
- Then after masking, cleaning hands and phone, and having my temperature taken, I was invited in to see Mom. After all, the 911 medic had declared her well enough to stay put, she was wondering about all the fuss and, I think the staff wanted my assessment too;
- I confirmed for Mom, “Yes, John—my father, your husband—died 5 years ago. I was there too, remember?, when he breathed his last.” The reality that she’d lost that memory during the wee hours (when she couldn’t find him) astounded her;
- We found Matthew Fox’s daily devotional about the Christian Mystics on her bookshelves (and now, a day later via phone, we’ve started discussing what she is finding in that book);
- While quietly working on a jigsaw puzzle together, we connected via FaceTime with my sisters and several of her grandchildren; and
- We shared her tuna sandwich and cranberry juice and I got to witness how others care for her while we best stay away. Basic elemental nourishment is all around.
Communion continued when I got home. Need I say, Gardenia greeted me; her flare was wide open. I was able to nap deeply, prone and on my side. Before dinner, we donned masks again for a slow almost-pain-free stroll in the neighborhood.
When Rob placed dinner before me last night—white fish with his signature lime-cilantro sauce along with wild rice and deli salads, I cried tears of profound relief and delight. While sobbing and breathing, both deeply and freely, authentic prayers of gratitude sprang forth:
“We are so very human. We depend on each other. Help us somehow live lovingly.
Thank you, Jesus,
(Well, you know me. While those were the basic words, I proliferated about the feast before me and dear man beside me. Enough said. So be it.)