Tuesday, May 26, 2015

soft and loving, warm and kind...

(march 20, 2015)

me: hey, stella, it's dani. 
how are you?
stella: oh, dani, i'm just terrible!
me: you're not supposed to be terrible!!!
it's your birthday!
what's the matter?
stella: someone just shattered 
the window out of my front door.

stella spread her arms
and lowered her face
as if looking at the floor
(stella was blind).

stella: just look at this mess!
me: don't worry,
let me get a broom and dustpan,
and i'll clean it up.
stella: oh, thank you...


i had obviously awakened
stella from a bad dream.
i paused for a moment 
then patted her knee.

me: see, all cleaned up!
stella: oh, thank you!
i didn't know 
what i was going to do.
me: it was no problem at all.

happy birthday!"
i said.

stella smiled.

stella: why, thank you!


i looked around stella's 
rest home room.
there were flowers and cards
and a great big birthday cake
sitting on her eating tray.




stella was 90 years old
on march the twentieth,
two thousand and fifteen,
and i was the one receiving a gift.
i was sitting right there 
next to her 
feeling blessed to have had her
in my life 
for nearly 40 of her years.

i sat there looking 
at her,


when i was a little girl,
stella treated me 
like i was one of hers.
i spent most afternoons,
after school,
with her and her husband, 
jack (my best friend)...
playing with jack,
cooking with 
and learning from stella.
she played the piano with me 
and taught me to crochet.
she took me to 
seasonal choir concerts 
every year
invited me over to see 
their Christmas tree 
when they had finished
decorating it.

it was the most beautiful
i had ever seen...
red lights,
red, Christmas-plaid bows,
white doves,
strands of pearls.


when i was a teenager, 
my friends and i stopped
before prom to show her and jack our dresses,
jack and stella were 
at our wedding,
at the hospital the night katherine was born,
at her birthday parties, 
when katherine went to her first prom,
things came full circle.
john went to get stella
(jack had died) 
to come over and see
(though stella's sight had already begun to fail her)
dressed in her ball gown.


a couple of weeks ago
before we were to leave 
for the dominican,
i called jeda, 
one of my dearest friends, 
jack's and stella's oldest daughter, 
to check on stella. 
jeda told me 
they had called in hospice, 
but the step was to just allow
for stella to receive 
a higher standard of care.
she assured me 
stella was still "stella".

jeda:  mother's been worrying
all morning about getting
katherine elizabeth's graduation card to her!
me:  oh, my goodness, 
how sweet is that!
jeda: i know...
i asked her 
if she wanted to sign 
the card
or if she wanted me 
to sign it.
 she said 
she wanted to sign it.

we both giggled;)


while we were on vacation,
i texted jeda
to check on stella.

me: how's our girl?
jeda: mother is comfortable.
hospice has made such a huge difference 
in her care,
but she and her functions 
are slowing down.

the fact stella's care had improved...
that she was comfortable,
made my heart sing.


after receiving the text from jeda,
i smiled.
stella always had made me feel comfortable.
she was always soft and loving,
warm and kind.
i thought about it and realized 
i had, perhaps, subconsciously 
endeavored over the years
to return those blessings
to her.
when shopping for her,
i always looked and felt
for the softest, warmest, and fuzziest
and blankets 
to comfort her 
in love and kindness.
i remember taking maggie 
when she was a tiny puppy
over at night
to curl up in stella's lap.
maggie loved going to stella's.
stella talked baby-talk to her
and petted her to sleep.
stella would go on-and-on
about how soft and sweet
maggie was.


on sunday morning,
i received a call from jeda.
when i answered 
maggie and mossi began to bark.
i only heard bits and pieces 
at first, 
but i heard enough to know 
our stella was gone.
jeda told me 
she, her sister, janie, and janie's boys
were going to spend some time with her 
before the funeral director 
came to get her.

i sat there stunned.


two days later...

in my heart
i'm still in disbelief.

in my head, 
i know...
i know 
my soft and loving,
warm and kind 
has joined my funny, entertaining jack
and her beloved mother and daddy 
in heaven.

i know she's in that place 
with her
Heavenly Father
where she can breathe...
where she can see again
where she can
enjoy all that is good 
forever and ever.

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx