It wasn’t the oppressive August heat that so stifled Sunday morning as I rode to the nursing home. It was knowing what I’d find when I arrived. Mother’s cramped quarters would be much less cramped. Her roommate’s closet would be empty, the bookshelf housing snack containers would be gone along with her books and Bible.
Ms. Sneed, Mother’s nursing home companion, had suffered a series of health complications and had been in the hospital for days. Her condition declined, and a bleak prognosis mandated her transfer to hospice care.
I traveled the customary drive while my mind recalled my first meeting with Ms. Sneed. She had been my lifesaver! The trauma of moving Mother to this facility had been cushioned by the bright smile of Ms. Sneed as we moved Mother and her belongings to the window-side of the room occupied by Ms. Sneed.
Reading was her favorite pastime, but she would always shut down any chapter for a sweet morsel to eat. When she and Mother dined together in the cafeteria, I would help Ms. Sneed open sweeteners for her breakfast oatmeal. Then she would ask so politely if I would add a couple of grape jelly packs. She enjoyed sweeteners in her coffee too – several of them! While I sifted the Sweet & Low for this Sweet Tooth Fairy, she would spin one of her Texas stories about her childhood and working on the farm.
Often, her stories were repeats, but I didn’t mind. She was always jovial and was grateful for every gesture of kindness. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she’d say every time anyone pulled her blanket around her shoulders or scratched her back in a hard-to-reach place.
Arthritis mixed with hard work had robbed her of most of her mobility, but I never heard her complain about her confinement to the wheelchair. She was the queen of gratitude and a poster saint for humility.
Sunday School and Wed. night services were regulars for her. If the teacher paused too long, she would interject her own testimony of God’s goodness, and she wasn’t bashful with her Amen’s! Anytime I read Bible portions to Mother, Ms. Sneed would thank me for reading the “precious Word” out loud.
Mother grew to love Ms. Sneed too. She told me that sometimes at night, they’d plan how they could sneak out the front door to go home. One night recently when Ms. Sneed was restless and hurting, Mother said she hummed her to sleep. “What did you hum, Mother?”
The nursing home saga of my life would be one to delete if it had been my choosing, but I have to trust the Psalmist when he said the steps of God’s children are ordered by the Lord. After growing to love Ms. Sneed, I’ve been able to accept those “steps” with gratitude to my Father. To Ms. Sneed, I say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”