This is the fifth and final part of a series about Lorene who was born and raised in Kentucky but moved to a small farm in Adams County, Ohio with her husband and two minor children in 1968. Lorene was ninety-two when she enrolled in our hospice program. Lorene fiercely and courageously fought to maintain her independence, but moved to a long-term care facility when she could no longer live alone.
Lorene has been residing at “The Manor” for over a year now and reflected, “When I first came here I could throw my legs over the side of the bed and walk across the room, but now I can’t even get up. I’m trying to die but they won’t let me. I just don’t know if I can take all these rules anymore. When trying to live gets to be too much trouble, you are ready to go on. I pray to God like he is sitting in that chair over there and I’ve told him I’m ready to go when He is. I asked God twice to take me but I’m still here. But now I’m not so sure if I’m ready to go through what I might have to do to get there.”
I know it is mere conjecture on my part, but I think the Apostle Paul would have responded to Lorene’s sentiments with, “My sentiments exactly,” for the Apostle Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For, I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you,” (Philippians 1:21-24).
Lorene’s sentiments remind me of the lyrics of the song, “In the Arms of the Angel”, by Sarah McLachlan: “Spend all your time waiting for that second chance, for a break that would make it okay… And it’s hard, at the end of the day… So tired of the straight line… The storm keeps on twisting… In the arms of the angel, fly away from here… You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie. You’re in the arms of the angel, May you find some comfort here…”
Several weeks ago Lorene shared, “Life gets too hard sometimes and it’s usually around eleven o’clock at night and you just want someone to come in your room and love you and rub your back. I didn’t use to, but now I pray that God would send his angels. You can’t do better than that can you?” In retrospect, perhaps Lorene’s request was granted. Just a few weeks ago Lorene declared, “I saw the tip of an angel wing last week. It was so fast. I couldn’t make it up. I was wide awake. Even if I didn’t really see it, it’s still alright. A friend of mine saw a full angel in her sunroom a few years ago. And a lady at Cedar Mills saw an angel all around the children who were working on some kind of special project and she died shortly afterward. That sure is a privilege isn’t it!”
The following week I told Lorene that I’d shared her story with her former pastor, Charlie, and Lorene asked, “What did Charlie say?” I explained that Charlie responded, “I would never question someone’s experience like that.” I explained that Charlie also thought he knew the woman who saw the angel around the children and that Charlie recounted, “They said that when the squad picked her up that she raised her arms up in the sky and said, ‘Praise you Jesus” and died.”
A few weeks ago, as if waiting for my arrival, Lorene exclaimed, “I’ve got a good one for you that has been coming to me; Loving Father, Living Jesus, Comforting spirit. I feel like God enabled me to figure that out. That’s The Trinity. And we need all three don’t we?” Personally, I agree with Lorene and I’m compelled to echo a resounding “Amen!” My friend Jerry and I frequently remind one another, “If it wasn’t for the Lighthouse, where would this ship be?” (“The Lighthouse”, by The Happy Goodmans).
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven… For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened… knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord… We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5: 1-8)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.