Wednesday, October 28, 2009

you might be surprised

I responded to a code blue in the heart center, and found myself with an elderly man who was worried sick about his wife.  He became my charge as she was taken to CCU.  His name was Stanley, watery red eyes and toothless grin, country as they come - his nervousness and tears welling up into a stream of conversation.

"You might be surprised that I'm so emotional.  It's just that Ruby and me is two peas in a pod."

We sat down in the waiting room together.  I remembered Dykstra writing about how chaplains have this unique gift of time to give.  Sitting with him was my job.  There were four other chaplains on site.  The pager was covered.  I was all Stanley's.  I turned toward him, with my hand occasionally on his shoulder. And listened.

     About his family.  "You might be surprised to know that I'm one of nine.  All my kin folk from bout 20 minutes up yonder."
     About his 38 years of work at the mill.  "You might be surprised to know how much I knew'd about mill stuff.
     About meeting Ruby at the mill.  "You might be surprised to know that we was married 3 weeks after I see'd her the first time."
     About the love of his life.  "You might be surprised to know that we is still in love after 41 years.  If you'd see'd one of us, then yous was gonna see'd the other. We's close like thet."
     About cooking.  "You might be surprised to know what I kin cook up."
     About every possible detail on how to make hamburger steak, tater pie and nana pie.  "You might be surprised what a bit of lemon does to sweet tater pie.....

And then his granddaughter arrived.  And I was dispatched to another call.  And then lunch.

But Stanley, you might be surprised how much I enjoyed listening to you.  You might be surprised how much your affection and tears touched my heart.  You might be surprised to know I'm still thinking about you and Ruby and hoping for a happy ending.

"If I were in your shoes, I'd go straight to God, I'd throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he's famous for great and unexpected acts; there's no end to his surprises.  Job 5:8   Message Bible


  1. Love the text end to his surprises!!

  2. And you might be surprised how much your writings touch the heart of this person who's never met you.

    And you might be surprised that Stanley and Ruby are now in my heart, too.

  3. I'll really be surprised when you make that bacon-wrap tofu tempeh stirfry you keep talking about