Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jimmy: Scene Six

This one is made up, but loosely based on some folks I know.  If you have ever been blessed to know someone as good as Jimmy, then you know people like this really do exist.

Hi.  I’m a nurse.  Yeah, I know, male nurse.  Go on, get the giggles outa your system.  I’m used to it.  I like being a nurse.  I like helping people.  But I was missing something.  I just wasn’t satisfied with my life.  I needed…something else.  I work at the local hospital and I usually work 60 or more hours a week.  I’ve cleaned bed pans, changed out IVs, given sponge baths, witnessed birth, and death.  I’ve seen people whose bodies were torn beyond recognition in horrible accidents, and I’ve seen people die peaceably in their sleep.  I’ve witnessed the horrors of cancer, alzheimers, you name it.

About a year ago, I was getting really jaded, you know.  The job I had loved, had become just another job.  I had hardened my heart against the pain and suffering.  I tried to be nice, you know, to joke around, smile, but I just couldn’t afford to let myself care too much. 

Then I met Jimmy. 

Jimmy was an older fella, mid to late 70s, with pure cotton top gray hair and a cherubic body with a big smile, though he was missing most of his teeth.  I met him several times in the past few months.  He was coming to the hospital for cancer treatment.  It was late stage stuff, and he gasped for every breath, but he was always smiling.  Always humming songs of worship, and he would always find people to pray with. 

What I found really amazing is that he wouldn’t ever mention his own prayers, for himself, he always prayed for others.  Even the nurses and doctors on the floor. 

The second time he came in, it was to the emergency room, his heart was beating irregularly, but even then, he never lost his composure, smiling in the pain, saying “God Bless You” to everyone who came in, and offering to pray for anyone there.  I couldn’t get that image of him praying for others, while he was being eaten up with cancer, while he was dying, he was praying for life for others.  I was blown away.

I met his granddaughter, Tyler.  She’s a lovely girl, and I fell for her quickly.  After work one night, I took her to Dairy Queen for ice cream.  I asked her about her grandfather.  Had he always been that way? 

She shook her head, “No, but he is now.”  With tears in her eyes she told me that he had been a successful businessman and real estate tycoon and had been a real sock it to them kinda guy.  But after retirement, he began to mellow.  Joined a church, etcetera.  She said that she thought he was just going through the motions, you know, to be seen being a good guy, or to pay whatever price he needed to , to have peace of mind that when he does die, that he will go to heaven and not to hell.

I nodded, and told her I got it, but she shook her head, “No, you don’t.  He really did give his life to Christ.  He changed, utterly and totally.  The past few years he worked even harder to help others, than he did when he was a businessman and real estate mogul.  The day he found out about the cancer, he went home and pulled out his old book of contacts.  He spent the next three days contacting everyone who he thought he had wronged all those years in business, anyone that he thought might have anything against him.  He didn’t tell them about the cancer.  He simply said, “I want to let you know that I’m sorry for whatever happened between us, and I’m asking for your forgiveness.”  Some hung up on him, some laughed, some accepted his apology. 

Jimmy died a month ago.  His funeral was the largest I’ve ever attended In my life.  So many people wanting to pay respects to this man.  Most said, they hadn’t even known he had cancer.  And I was struck by what the preacher said that day.  “The love we show for others, the life we lead here, reflects the love of God for us.  That we as the body of Christ, have a duty to love God, and to love others.”

I grew up a lot the day we buried Jimmy.  Now I pray everyday.  I pray for all those in my care.  I pray for the doctors and staff of the hospital, and I try to live a life that reflects the love of God.  I’m blessed for it, as Tyler has agreed to marry me and become my wife.  So whenever things look bad for you, or you find yourself in a dark place, think of Jimmy, think of his love and know that it was a mere reflection, a ripple on a pond, of the love of Christ.  Love all.

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