December 29, 2011

December 29, 2011 No Comments   

***Patient names have been changed to protect privacy***
It was a Monday morning in July, as I arrived at Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown, Kentucky. I knew from the white rose in the crystal vase displayed in the nurses’ station that we had a death on Sunday. I paused for a moment and smiled knowing this rose was for a very special patient.

That summer day with temperatures soaring to almost 100 degrees, found the hospital very busy. As part of the chaplaincy team, I am privileged to see hundreds of patients each month. Some of those visits stay with you for a lifetime.

On my visit list this week was a husband and a wife both ill and in separate units at Flaget. When I visited John first, he shared with me the love story of his wife that had lasted 64 years – and only days from reaching 65 years together. They had married young and had cared for one another up until the last few months. Now both in their late 80s and with declining health, John indicated with great sadness that now his wife was suffering with a disease that had robbed her of most of her memory of him and their life together. A life blessed with children and grandchildren – in a small Kentucky town.

We talked and prayed and I could feel his unwavering love and respect for his wife of 64 years. I reflected on their journey together and their enduring love as I prayed with him. He asked me to go and visit his wife next and when I arrived to her room, family members were gathered knowing that her time left on earth would be short. I prayed with them as they wiped tears and moved back and forth between their parent’s rooms.

Early Sunday morning, around 2 o’clock in the morning, I was paged back to the hospital by the nursing staff. The woman was near death and asking for her beloved John. The nurses filled with compassion, moved her hospital bed into John’s room close enough that they could join hands.

John never let go of that small, frail but familiar hand he had known for more than six decades. She had called his name, and as he had promised her as a teenager that in sickness and in health he would be there for her, he was. Hours passed and together holding hands and praying the rosary she died peacefully with her husband and soul mate at her side.

While I’d like to believe this compassionate care happens in all hospitals for all patients – I am certain that it does happen every day at Flaget.

Phyllis Bowling
Flaget Memorial Hospital
4305 New Shepherdsville Road
Bardstown, KY 40004

Employee Stories, Flaget Memorial Hospital

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