6.30am A tui and the Sun’s rays together announce Monday morning.
The pager goes off….
|“We have an elderly woman dying. Her daughter cannot get in as her father needs to be taken to hospital. She has asked if a chaplain can be with her Mum”.
“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. What ward and who is the patient?’
“7 North and Mrs B, bed A1”
“Good. See you then.”
When I arrive I can see that she is very low. I hold her hand and introduce myself but she gives no response. I pray for her and ten minutes later she dies. I assist the nurse with laying her out, then I pray again with the nurse present. We talk briefly about Mrs B before she leaves for her day’s duties. I leave a card and a note for the family offering to come back when they get to the hospital. After breakfast and some quiet time in the chapel I checked e-mails. My list of patients to be visited included a 70 year old who’d had a stroke. He had been found on the floor by his wife when she returned from a night at the theatre with a friend.
He was still unconscious; while he was being washed I was able to spend time with his wife, giving her an opportunity to tell the story and to express what it meant to her not to have been with him at the time of the stroke.
Later in the morning I was able to cheer a patient who was in her twelfth day in hospital and eagerly waiting permission to go home. I was then able to see eight other patients.
During lunch I was called to bless the room where Mrs B had died. Since her family had not been able to come in, she had been taken directly to the funeral home; the nurse who had cared for her was with me while I blessed the room.
After lunch I went to Wakefield Hospital where the charge nurse on Ward 3 discussed the patients who needed a visit. One of these appreciated a bit of outside company; the other was reflecting on the second chance of life that his surgery offered him. He resolved to spend more time with his family in the future.
On the second floor, two men were recovering from cardiac surgery. One of them needed to tell how close to a heart attack he had come. Everything had happened very fast and he was still coming to terms with it all. Telling his story was part of making it real. He appreciated a prayer and wept as we gave thanks for his recovery.
Back in Wellington Hospital I responded to a call to see a lonely elderly man. He had been in hospital for 9 days; his family all live overseas and visits from chaplaincy volunteers were very important. As we talked together he concluded that material things were not as important as friends and family. I said a prayer with him and left him alone again, pondering on his comments as I biked quietly home.