When I think about the career that I have as a registered nurse, it makes me so thankful to have had the luxury of witnessing the miraculous hand of God in the lives of so many. As it gets closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, I am blessed among women to have an intact family where everyone loves one another and holds the other dear. This is not true of every family, and one of those memories as a nurse proves this statement accurate.
It was a few years ago when I was taking care of a sweet lady who came into the hospital with a common illness. While taking care of her, as in so many cases, she told me the story of her two daughters. Sadly, she was divorced when they were sixteen and eighteen- years old. The sixteen-year old daughter stayed with her, but the eighteen- year old chose to go with her father. The father was very bitter and filled the older daughter daily with much disdain for her mother. Because the older daughter took up an offense for her father, she chose not to speak to her mother. My patient explained that she too became angry at the daughter, and as the years went by, neither would contact the other.
What seemed to be a routine diagnosis and treatment for this patient, with the usual expected outcome of healing, turned into a life-threatening situation. Within a few days, the patient became increasingly worse, in so much that all of her organs, one by one began shutting down. The doctor came to me and said, “I have spoken to her daughter and she wants to abide by her mother’s wishes not to prolong life. Just make her comfortable; she will not live through the night.”
Entering her room with despair hanging like a cloud, I found her crying. After giving her as much assurance as I could, I asked her if I could pray with her. She quickly said yes, and I asked God to come to her and give her peace. I remembering being moved with compassiion, and I looked up to the ceiling and said, ” Lord, please give us a miracle; you are all powerful, and I trust you.” Shortly after, she became unresponsive with her daughter at the bedside. The following day, she was still with us, and the daughter asked if she could speak with me. “Should I call my sister?” she asked? “I don’t even know if I have a number, but perhaps I could call someone who may.” I immediately said, “Yes”; what could it hurt?
After many attempts, the younger daughter reached her sister. Miraculously, she was not far away and she told her sister, “I have been waiting for this phone call, and I so want to come.” No one on the medical staff could believe the next few hours. The older daughter came and sat at her mothe’s side, talking to her and asking her to forgive the breach that had gone on so foolishly over the years. Was it the daughter’s voice that woke her mother? Or was it the loving kindness of a miraculous God? The scene that etched in our hearts that day will never leave us. We saw two women crying, hugging, talking, and healing one another for the next few hours. Death came, but only after two sisters became reunited, and a mother and daughter were set free from the prison of bitterness.
The estranged sisters thanked me for listening to their story, and for stepping out in faith to pray for healing. The younger sister hugged me with tears streaming down her face, thanking me for encouraging her to call her sister. They stated that for the first time in many years, they would enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, sharing it with one anoter. Finally, they could have a Forever Thanksgiving.
I have used this story countless times speaknig to women’s groups, church groups, even during my cooking classes, and to many of my co-workers. I have encouraged the nurses around me to listen to the story of their patient’s lives, to step out on faith, and to see the handiwork of God. Nursing to me has always been a ministry, a call of God to minister to the broken-hearted. It is so much more that handing out pills, dressing wounds, or, even attending to their daily needs. It is the healing ministry of Jesus, just waiting for an opportunity to work in lives of the people.
Life is so short, and a root of bitterness can spring up overnight, defiling all it touches. The table will be set with wonderful food, but love and forgiveness will give it purpose. To love one another and make peace; this is the will of God for our lives.
Happy Thanksgiving NOTE: This article has been published in the Rosalie Serving Best Loved Italian cookbook, page 190, and may be used by the author permission for distribution as desired.