Mom had another rough patch, where she was disoriented by all the pain, unfamiliar ICU setting, and lingering drug effects. During that time, she refused treatment. This transient confusion is very common in elderly hospitalized patients after surgery. Nonetheless, it is terrifying to family members.
I had left her with Dad and just returned from a walk when I saw the commotion of concerned staff and Dad in her room. I overheard him telling them Vicky would be back any moment. Oh-oh. I had to come up with a new strategy to bring her back to our reality.
"Why are you refusing treatment?" I asked.
"I do not like them," she told me, pointing at the nurses.
"OK, Sam-I-Am," I said remembering a Dr. Seuss favorite, Green Eggs and Ham. She had read that to us hundreds of times. A huge favorite! "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam-I-Am. I do not like them in a house, I do not like them with a mouse, I do not like them here or there, I do not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am."
She was calm, listening.
"Do you know the last line of that book?" I said. (Forgive me for botching the lines, but I was close enough. Her memory is worse than mine...at least at the moment.)
She shook her head.
"But I do!!! I do like green eggs and ham, I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!!"
She was still listening, but I wasn't sure she was getting my point so I continued.
"Now Mom, you have known me for... well...my whole life, right? And for 30 years, I have followed Jesus, and my gift is helping others. I love to help others. That's why I drove 11 hours to be with you now, that's why I speak to women at the abortion center to encourage them to choose life, and that's why I teach art classes in the nursing home, and that's why I was an occupational therapist. I love God and I know God helps us in our time of need, but I also know that God sends people who want to help others. I am a helper. I recognize other helpers. These people here, they are good people who want to help you."
She was not fully convinced so I kept going. "Do you remember when Anders was two years old, and I saw his little feet sticking out under the curtain as he was watching the robins on the front yard?"
I have told her this story many times, from the day it happened.
"And remember, I overheard him praying to God. He said, 'Dear Lord, please let me hold a robin. I won't hurt it. I just want to hold it.' Then there was a big sad sigh as he turned from the window."
(My son Anders was quite precocious and yes, that is really how he spoke at age 2.)
"Remember Mom how I was crushed. When that impossible prayer was not answered, what would that do to Anders' faith? Anyway, I put him in his car seat and we went on to your lake house. Remember how I helped you open the lake house every spring? So we pull up to the house, with Anders in his car seat. I left his car door open and unlocked the house. Do you remember what I saw sitting on the counter?"
"Yes," Mom said, "A bird."
"That's right. A young robin. So I scooped that bird up thinking how on earth did I bird get in the house, all locked for the winter. I carried the robin out to Anders, stretched out my hands, and told Anders, 'Look Anders, God sent you a robin.' He reached out his hands, and I put the little bird in his hands. Then I told him he needed to let the robin go now, thinking it must be hurt. I took the robin back and held open my hands, and do you remember what happened then?"
She nodded. "He flew to the top of the tree."
"You see Mom, God answered that impossible prayer of a two year old! That shows the depth of His love and His care. You know I love God, and He loves you, and me, and little 2-year-old Anders. I know He has sent these good people to care for you."
The nurse managed to get the oxygen tube back in Mom's nose and she was completely normal again. In fact, just ten minutes later, the OT/PT team returned and had Mom standing, then settled into the recliner, her first extended time out of bed since this broken hip and arm ordeal began. She was beaming with joy.
"They've given her hope!" Dad said.
Yes. They had given her hope. And so had God.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.