Night Nurse

I am sharing this story to give hope to others, to give encouragement, and to say not to give up on others--or yourself. My mother was not a nice person--it's hard to say this--but, she wasn't. She had lots of friends--but it was mostly just her family who knew how mean-spirited and selfish she could be. We were quite poor when I was growing up--my father was a hard worker, but had little education. Still, we would have had a good home life, except that my mom pitched a fit every single day--she was always very domineering and made my father's life miserable. Well, my dad was a lot older than her, and she was only 51 when he died. She never remarried. As a young adult, I tried to have a decent relationship with her - and at least on the surface, we got along well. In her old age, she lived in an assisted living home--she had inherited money, and got along very well.

There came a day, however, when she could not stay there, and was going to have to go into a nursing home.. My husband and I remodeled a portion of our home, and moved her in with us. We gave her care around the clock for nearly 7 years. Though I had been raised in a church, I really didn't know how to be a Christian until I was older. I tried to share what I had learned with my mom during her last couple of years--because I knew she wasn't saved. I felt responsible for her, and I worried about it as her health grew worse. Whenever I tried to talk about God with her, she would grow very angry--she would tell me to "stop preaching at me!" Her pastor came to visit every week, and I once overheard him tell her that he knew she had not ever done anything bad wrong--and I thought, "Boy, she has done a number on everyone."

Just before her final illness - she did start wanting to talk about the next life - she was 89 years old. She told me that she was going to beg God for Mercy after she died--my mom was Catholic--and Catholics believe that some souls go to purgatory and suffer there for a while and that they can "make-up" for their sins there, and then go to heaven. I figured she thought she was going there. I told her that I believed there were no more"chances to make things right" after death--that you had to make your peace with God before you died. She kept telling me that I was wrong--she said she would get down on her knees before the Throne of The Father and beg for forgiveness. I kept telling her that she had to get saved before she died, but she wouldn't listen to me. So, she went into the hospital, and was very sick. Although she was in her right mind, she gave the nurses an awful time.

One evening, after I had stayed with her all day, I sat in the hospital snack bar to rest a moment before driving home. A nurse came in and got herself a coke from the machine--it was almost time for the night shift to begin. She kind of reminded me of my mom - because when I was a child, mom had worked nights in a hospital. Mom was heavyset and would wear a heavy coat in winter (it was December), and she would wrap her head up in a scarf. Most ladies don't wear scarfs anymore. Well, that's how this lady looked, except she was a black lady and my mom was white My mom also loved coca-cola, and would take a couple to work with her.

Well, this nurse, whom I had never seen before, turned to me, smiled, and said, "Your mother is Mrs. James, isn't she?" "Yes," I replied. "I have been taking care of her at night," she went on. "She has been talking to me about her spiritual beliefs, and last night, she asked me what I believed, and I told her. Then she wanted me to pray with her, and so I did. I know that you have been very worried about her, and I want you to know that she has been saved. Well, I have to hurry now, I'll be late for my shift". This nurse had the warmest smile - the kindest eyes I've ever seen - I was so tired - and she made me feel so much better.

I wondered how she knew who I was. My mom seemed at peace after that - no more fights with the nurses. She died quietly on Christmas Day. I too, am a nurse, and a little while later, I went to work at that hospital. It is a very small place--only 36 beds. I wanted to find the nice nurse who had helped my mom prepare for her death--but no one knew her. In fact I spoke with every nurse on that unit - some had been there for years - and they all said that as long as they had been there, there had never been a black nurse working any shift on that unit.

I guess they had never seen her - but, I know for certain that she worked several night on one particularly difficult case!

Ruth James, RN.