I started this blog just before my friend Patti’s surgery and have been working on it as often as I could find time, but many nights this week, I’d fall asleep before I could get my thoughts down. As I was writing the blog, I realized I had so much to say about everything I saw and experienced. It kept becoming longer and longer! It began to seem more like a chapter in a book than a blog so I decided to break it up into parts. Here is Part ONE. Part TWO will follow soon and detail the recovery of both Patti and her recipient John.
PART 1 – “A Little Bit Wiser”
As Patti and I sat at my favorite coffee shop and went over the details of who she wanted me to call after the surgery, I started thinking, "oh wow… this has really come to fruition". Patti had talked about donating her kidney, to her friend John, for over a year but we were now at the less than 24 hour point before she would Lose "Paul". You see, my Mama named Patti’s kidneys Peter and Paul. We were out at the Listening Room on New Year’s Eve and Mama asked her which one she was giving away, Peter or Paul? In Patti fashion, she contemplated for a few minutes and her answer was Paul. She definitely had specific reasons as to why she chose to give Paul to John, but I can't seem to recall those at the moment.
Next, Patti handed me her funeral arrangements, in the event something should go horribly wrong. The line that stuck out to me was, of course, "Julie Roberts sings I'll Fly Away". I knew she wanted me to do that but I just skimmed over the rest of that entire page and said "we aren't gonna need any of this". She said she knew I was right, but just in case, I would have it.
Then she told me that should something happen, she wanted her ashes spread over the top of some mountain in East TN. Patti loves nature and hiking so that was the perfect place.
At that point, I began to get nervous. Was this going to be the last time I met one of my best friends for coffee? We meet at least once a week for a three-hour lunch or coffee, where I tend to become smarter from Patti's words of wisdom and probably, she becomes exhausted trying to sort out all of my scattered thoughts.
She knows things about me no one else does. If it was Patti’s time to go to heaven, who would help me solve all my problems and keep me on the path of believing in my dreams? I was counting on her to get through this surgery smoothly so that we could be sitting at that same coffee shop in just a few weeks.
Is that selfish? Here I am with a lady about to give her kidney away to a man in need and I was trying to think of anything else I could think of to talk about so that we wouldn't have to focus on the order of a potential memorial service. I was trying to talk about everything I possibly could about me because I didn't know when we'd get the chance to do this again. Then I stopped myself and said "It’s not about my problems or my life today. As much as I want to pick your brain on some things, we are thinking about you!" She smiled and said, "No, I wanna hear about you." Of course she’d say that! This selfless person about to give up her kidney wants to hear about the things I am dealing with, which quickly began to feel unimportant at this point.
Fast-forward one day later and I'm on the 3rd floor of the Vanderbilt Veterans hospital talking on the phone. I was waiting on Patti to get out of surgery. It was a 3-hour surgery and then a 2-hour recovery. I was standing in the hallway working on a credit card issue and here comes Patti being wheeled down the hall on her gurney. She saw me and everyone else waiting in the room and the first three words out of her mouth were "how's John doing?". Those credit card problems were gone in an instant. With just three words coming out of the mouth of this child of God, I became wiser. “How’s John doing”? Wow! She was only worried about the man’s life she was potentially saving. What else is there to worry about? Money problems, job worries, car problems, bad weather…none of that was on the forefront of my mind anymore. Life is about love and showing love in as many ways as you can while you are on this earth. I was wiser!!
It’s Saturday now and I just got home from the hospital. I spent most of the latter part of my week up there with Patti. Meeting her friends as they came in the room, spending time with her sweet Mom Rose, helping her to the bathroom or with walks down the hall, doing anything I could to help, but mainly just sitting and listening. I took so much in this week. I know I was where I was meant to be and doing what I was meant to do this week. Who cares if I haven’t washed my hair in 3 days…that’s what they make baby powder for!!! I probably smell like a new baby today because I have a ton of that stuff in my hair!! Again, I am wiser and I knew it was time to put my vanity aside and do what Patti needed me to do!! (I’ve been home 2 hours now and still haven’t washed my hair! And I’m not worried about it at all!!!)
I walked through the halls of the Veterans hospital every day. I looked in all the rooms because I couldn’t help it. I was drawn to see what the faces of the men & women who served our country looked like. I was proud to be walking those halls and I wouldn’t be there had it not been for them risking their lives to fight for my freedom.
Walking those halls saddened me sometimes. Many of the veterans were alone. I didn’t see many visitors or many “get well” flowers or balloons. I wonder why? Had they been forgotten? I sure hope not. I’ve thought about it over and over this week. Actually, I can’t stop thinking about it. Fortunately, they were getting great care there. The doctors and nurses were first class & on top of their needs.
On a side note, I couldn’t help but think about my Dad this week. He is a veteran. Although we don’t speak that often, I am proud of him. I wondered if he’d ever been to a Veterans hospital. And if so, did he have any visitors? That made me sad. I think I’m going to try and contact him soon. Again, I became wiser this week.
Now, I have to tell you about my new friend Rose. Sweet Rose is Patti’s Mom from Maryland. Rose is 82 years old and was such an angel. Everyone that had met her previously called her “MeeMaw” when they came in the hospital room, but she was Rose to me. She was as beautiful as any rose I’d ever seen. Her beauty went way deep in her little tiny body and shined for the world to see. I immediately took it as my job to make sure Rose was ok. Patti’s brother Bobby was there also and taking wonderful care of Patti and Rose but I wanted to take her under my wing. The first day I met her, I hugged her and if I had closed my eyes, I would have thought it was my MawMaw back in South Carolina. They have the same frame, petite and tiny! They both seem very fragile and make my heart melt. One day, my friend Michelle and I took Rose to the hospital cafeteria. She was hungry. Patti had informed me in previous weeks that she doesn’t eat very much. On the way downstairs, Rose explained her eating habits to me too. She said, “I don’t eat but a couple of bites of my meals because I get full fast. I DO LIKE SWEETS THOUGH!!” She smiled when she said “sweets”. Just like my MawMaw!
We got her a small sprite which lasted her about 5-6 hours and she picked out a pack of 5 little doughnuts. The doughnuts lasted her about 30 minutes! She DID love sweets!! We sat in the cafeteria and talked for about an hour. I learned about Rose’s fears, her loves, her family, her home, what cereal she liked for breakfast, what her favorite restaurant was, that she was scared of animals, about her grandchildren and her great grandchildren, that she has 2 girlfriends that she takes walks with, about the farm she lived on in Massachusetts, how some days she wishes she could go back there and live, and most of all, how proud she was of Patti and how much she loved her. I caught myself several times during our talk about to cry. Maybe I wanted to cry because I missed MawMaw or maybe I wanted to cry because I knew I would only get to spend a few weeks with Rose and that was not fair. God brought this amazing woman in my life for just 3 weeks? Nope…that’s not good enough! I will definitely make a trip up to visit her sometime.
Have you ever met someone you wished you could put in your pocket and take everywhere with you? That’s how I feel about MawMaw and now Rose. I think we’d have lots of great talks and wonderful laughs. Rose would teach me about life and I could teach Rose what she might not know about (which isn’t much). The only thing she ever asked me about this week that she didn’t know much about was Facebook! Haha! You gotta love that!
As the week passed and Patti healed, Rose and I became friends. If I wasn’t sitting next to Rose in the hospital room, I always had my eye on her. She would sneak out every now and then to the hallway of the hospital to warm-up. She is always cold, like my MawMaw. Sometimes I would look across the room while there was a group conversation going on and I’d notice that Rose might look a little bit confused. Sometimes she couldn’t hear what was being talked about so she just sat there trying to figure it out. Once, I saw that happening and I went and sat next to Rose and started up my own conversation with her. It was like she knew what I was thinking from across the room. One of the first things she said was “Everyone tells me I don’t hear very good anymore but I think it’s that everyone speaks so soft.” I loved Rose’s reasoning! I agreed with Rose and told her that I had to basically watch everyone’s mouth and try to read their lips because they DID speak softly. Maybe I was losing my hearing too. Rose and I were going to be great friends. We could talk loud to one another, eat sweets, and teach each other about life. I am definitely much wiser now!
To be continued...