Friday, April 22, 2011
A Wednesday afternoon. Keith ran the stairs two at a time to the fourth floor. He knew the service door push-button combination. No time for the elevator. Stewart and Krista were already there and Nurse Katie, senior woman in George Cromarty's wing. There was evidence that the Doctor had just left.
"Hi guys, when did it happen?"
Stewart turned slowly from his uncle, "About 9:45. Katie was the first one to know."
The nurse put her hand on Keith's shoulder. "He had had a good breakfast. Shared some laughter with one of the newer residents. A volunteer wheeled him back and all seemed OK. I got a ring at the desk an hour later. He was all smiles. Told me that we hadn't had our mid-week "chin-wag". Told me a bit about what is going on at the Church, Keith.
Then he reached over to the side table for his Bible and handed it to me. Asked me to open it where the paper clip was, and to start reading at the 6th verse through the 19th. There, Stewart the Book is right beside you. It was Psalm 34, I think. 'Scuse me, I'm not quite up on these things any more. The stroke musta' been within the half hour after I left."
Stewart took the Bible, faced his uncle again, tried to focus on the one moist eye still where it was supposed to be, and read to the silent Scot:
6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
11Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Krista was holding George's good hand. He slowly withdrew it and displayed his first two fingers. Krista looked puzzled, "Two, the number two. Do you want us to continue with the second Psalm George?"
A queer acknowledging smile was made by the good side of the face. Things continued in this fashion for another ten minutes and then the old boy's eyes closed in sleep, one at a time. Others in the room huddled closer, and hugged silently.
Katie had remained throughout like a loving sentinel. No one had called for her over the P.A.