Y CLOSE FRIEND PATTY had breast cancer. When
she was first diagnosed, her children were all in high school. She
endured chemotherapy and radiation treatments for many years, wanting
to make sure that she could see her children through school. The
last child had entered college the year everyone came home for Christmas.
They had a family picture taken and celebrated a wonderful holiday
together. Then the children went back to school. By this time, the
cancer had spread to her brain and she grew very ill. She came to
CHRISTUS Spohn Memorial Hospital, which was at the time known as
Memorial Medical Center.
Throughout her five-year illness, her husband Peter had remained
devoted to Patty. His employer had been very supportive and allowed
him to be right by her side through every treatment. The day she
came to the hospital, Peter needed to go by his office and asked
me to stay with his wife.
I first met the couple years before, they professed to be atheist,
and then later said they were more agnostic. They were spiritually
confused. As Patty went through her illness, she knew I was praying
for her and she spoke of more spiritual things. Although I have
always been respectful of their beliefs, that day when Peter left,
I felt I needed to tell Patty how much God loves her. As I talked
to her about these things, she took my hand and smiled as tears
rolled down her cheeks and she acknowledged that she knew what I
said was true. The next day, she was unable to respond to anyone.
As she blankly stared at those around her, I was so grateful that
I had not waited another day to tell Patty of God’s love for her.
Three close friends gathered in the morning to be with Patty. Even
though we had been close for years, she didn’t know who we were.
We were concerned about her middle son, Paul, who had been struggling
to deal with her illness. He was due to visit her on his lunch hour.
We prayed and prayed that God would help all of her children, especially
Paul. It would be awful if she could not recognize him.
As the morning wore on, we noticed that Patty would always glance
at the door when someone entered the room, but without expression.
Then Paul came through the door. As she looked at him, her face
lit up and she smiled. He came over to the bed and leaned down and
she reached up to give him a hug. We sat there in awe thanking God
that she recognized her son in these moments.
Paul was able to stay about ten or fifteen minutes and told his
mother about his day. After he left, she did not recognize anyone.
She died later that evening. It was the most beautiful example of
God’s grace. Patty’s healing finally came at her death because she
had suffered greatly. And there are no words to describe the gift
that God gave her son.
CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Memorial
Corpus Christi, Texas