E WALKED WITH THE GRACE OF AN ATHLETE and
the dignity of the church elder that he was. His silver gray hair
framed a weathered face that was etched with laugh lines. It seemed
like he knew the wisdom of the world.
He called me daughter, I called him Mr. Fields. He was black. I
was white. He was a great-grandfather. I am a grandmother. He was
Baptist. I am Catholic. He was my hospice patient. I was his nurse.
He had cancer. I had cancer. He was end stage. I was newly diagnosed.
I had received a phone call with news of my diagnosis, just as I
was leaving the office to visit him, and my surgery had been scheduled.
When I arrived, he greeted me with a smile and hug. “I’m doing
a little poorly today, daughter,” he said.
proceeded with my nursing assessment. We joked and as usual, compared
notes about our grandchildren. Then he asked, his smile fading,
“What is troubling your soul, child?” I had been trying
so hard to hide my fears and anxieties from him. I had been proud
of myself that I was holding it together and acting like a professional.
His question was like a thrust to the heart. Tears filled my eyes.
He put his arms around me and began to pray, “Father, God,
this child of yours needs your strengthening arms about her, needs
to feel your love around her, and to know she doesn’t have to face
this trouble alone. Amen.” Then he said, “Even something
as frightening as cancer can be gotten through with His help. He
gives me strength to go on and enjoy life.”
Mr. Fields died shortly after that. I was on medical leave following
my surgery and did not see him again, but I will never forget him.
He was so sick, yet took care of me. He didn’t know what was troubling
me, but saw a need and gave peace and solace to a wounded sister.
He also taught me that you need your brothers and sisters to minister
to you, and that your troubles should not keep you from reaching
out to minister to others.
Sarah Farmer, RN
CHRISTUS Spohn Hospice
Corpus Christi, Texas