Lucy was in her sixties, but I’m just guessing, because it’s been more than thirty years since Lucy departed this world for her Heavenly home. It was back when Mercy hospital was still standing; back when we had three competing hospitals in this small rural city of Portsmouth.
I met Lucy at Mercy Hospital when her doctor referred her to our Social Work Department for discharge planning. Lucy had just been diagnosed with cancer which turned her world upside down. She had been referred to the cancer center for chemotherapy and stated, “But I don’t have any way to get there”. So I volunteered to transport Lucy there and back home each visit, and she accepted.
Our trips to and from the cancer center afforded us the opportunity to get to know each other pretty well. As Lucy’s condition declined she struggled to get in and out of her upstairs apartment. Therefore, I helped her secure an apartment at “Old Market Square” and my brother, Tony, and I moved her in with his old white van. Lucy’s full-size bed was too large for her efficiency apartment. I told my wife, Susie, over the dinner table that I needed to find Lucy a half bed. Then our daughter, Mandy, who was six at the time, spoke up and said, “Dad, Lucy can have my bed. I can sleep on the floor.” So Mandy did for a while.
I eventually invited Lucy to church with my family and she accepted. The church embraced Lucy and Lucy embraced the church. But it was a while before Lucy embraced Jesus as her Lord and savior. Just so you know, there were no strong-arm tactics, no emotional blackmail, and no manipulation. You see, God won’t accept less than our love, and love can only exist when there is absolute free will and mutual consent.
Lucy attended church with my family and me for several months. She seemed to be doing well. She was spry and feisty, outgoing and getting out. I can’t remember the reason for her hospitalization but she was admitted to Southern Ohio Medical Center. I visited her there and she seemed to be recovering well and was ready for discharge. She sat up at the side of the bed as we talked and I told her that I would pick her up for church Sunday morning.
I think you can understand why I was taken aback when Lucy’s daughter, Dee, called me that evening and informed me, “Loren, you can’t believe what just happened. Mom just died. I was at the hospital visiting her and she was sitting up on the side of the bed talking with me. She seemed like she was doing really good but then all of a sudden she told me, ‘Well Dee, I have to go. Jesus is here for me and I have to leave.’ Then mom smiled, waved bye to me, fell back on the bed and then she was gone.”
We are never alone when we are “in Christ Jesus”. If you don’t believe me, then take His word for it: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also…I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you,” (John, chapter15).
Lucy’s departure from this world reminds me of the words of a song by Carrie Underwood: “Old man, hospital bed, the room is filled with people he loves, and he whispers ‘Don’t cry for me, I’ll see you all someday.’ He looks up and says, ‘I can see God’s face. This is my temporary home; it’s not where I belong, windows and rooms that I’m passing through. This is just a stop on the way to where I’m going. I’m not afraid because I know, this is my temporary home,” (My Temporary Home).
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.