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Secluded in my room, I yearned for the mouth-watering aromas of mom's freshly baked cookies, hot chocolate and love. The absence of the usual giggling, slamming doors and ringing telephones made the dormitory seem cold and empty. The unappetizing smell of disinfectant replaced my visions of cookies and cocoa.
Standing in front of the mirror, I conversed with my reflection. "You wanted to be a nurse didn't you? Well, you're almost a nurse. Now is your chance to find out what Christmas spirit really means." Determined to make the best of it, I turned in early.
"I'll be home for Christmas. You can count on me..." My faithful clock-radio announced reveille as I slowly dragged myself out of a toasty-warm bed. I trudged across the snow-filled street and grabbed a quick breakfast in the cafeteria before reporting for duty on the medical-surgical unit.
As I prepared to take vital signs on my first patient, I was startled by a robust voice that came from behind. "Merry Christmas to you. Want anything from the cafeteria? I'm headed that way Missy." As I took the stethoscope out of my ears and turned around, from the dimly lit room I could see a gigantic, roly-poly elderly gentleman with long, curly hair, all decked out in a bright red, plaid shirt tucked haphazardly into baggy red trousers. The trousers appeared to be held up by only two, wide, fire-engine-red suspenders that had long since outlived their elasticity. This Santa Claus facsimile was standing in the doorway waiting patiently for an answer to his query. The only thing missing was the beard.
As I looked toward the bright hallway lights from the darkened room, I thought for a moment that I was dreaming. "No thanks," I responded. "I just came on duty. I'll grab something at lunch."
Before disappearing down the hall he added, "Name's George. Just let me know what I can do for you, Missy. I'll be right back."
As I cared for my patients, George was right alongside. I watched him spread holiday cheer as he became a guest to the patients who had no visitors that day. When trays arrived he knew who needed assistance and who needed to be fed. He read letters and cards to those whose eyes could no longer see the letters on a printed page. George's powerful body and tender hands were always ready to help hold, turn, pull-up or lift a patient. He was a "gopher" who made countless trips to the supply room for the "needs of the moment."
George also knew when to call for help. While reading a letter to Mr. Jenkins, George noticed that the patient suddenly started to "look funny" and instantly ran to the nurse's station to summon aid. Thanks to George's swift action, we managed to reverse the effects of an impending diabetic coma.
Jovial George clearly enjoyed helping others while he spread cheer and told jokes -- the same jokes, over and over again, all day long, one patient at a time. We all enjoyed his presence that Christmas day.
When I finally took my lunch break, I was surprised to find the cafeteria elaborately decorated for the season. I sat down next to one of the staff nurses from the unit. During lunch with Andrea, I had the chance to ask a burning question. "Who is this George fellow? And why is he here on Christmas Day?"
"About ten years ago, George's wife became seriously ill. He spent almost every waking moment by her side. Those two lovebirds were so devoted to one another. There was nothing he wouldn't do for her." Andrea stopped for a few moments, sipping her coffee in silence, before continuing.
"George started to visit other patients while his wife was sleeping or having treatments. He was here so much that he seemed to take naturally to helping out wherever he could."
My natural curiosity made me ask, "Does he have any family?"
A serious look came over Andrea's face as she continued. "They never had children, and as far as I know, there are no relatives. But you see, George watched his wife suffer for a very long time. He shared every second of her pain and anguish. On Christmas Eve night, after I prepared his wife for sleep, they prayed together. During the prayer, George promised his wife that if God would take away her misery that night, by taking her 'home,' he would spend the rest of his life as a Christmas volunteer."
Andrea and I finished our lunch in silence.
Send Laura an email and let her know what you thought of her story!
Christmas Presence. Reprinted by permission Laura Lagana. ©2000 Laura Lagana.
Laura Lagana is an author, speaker and registered nurse. She is a co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul," a member of the National Speakers Association, Delaware Literary Connection, American Nurses Association and National Nurses in Business Association. She may be reached at Success Solutions, P.O. Box 7816, Wilmington, DE 19803; E-mail: Nurseangel@LauraLagana.com; Website: http://www.LauraLagana.com
Thought For The Day:
"God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him." --Jim Elliot
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our Salvation." Psalm 68:19
"If you can't find a way through the crowd, make one."
"What is a home without children? Quiet." --Henny Youngman
Triumph is a little "umph" added to 'try."
"Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins. It has no job security of any kind, and depends mostly on whether or not you can, like Scheherazade, tell the stories each night that'll keep you alive until tomorrow. There are undoubtedly hundreds of easier, less stressful, more straightforward jobs in the world. Personally, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do, but that's me." --Neil Gaiman
"It takes money to make money, because you have to copy the design exactly."
This Week: "Learning to Wait" by Jeff Williams
Over 95,000 people have listened to popular Chicken Soup Author Michael T. Powers' free inspirational message entitled: "Breathing Life into Others". If you aren't one of them just visit: http://www.HeartTouchers.com and click on the link to listen to the free streaming audio message!
I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!
Let me make you a video from your photos!