Monday, December 22, 2014

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY BLOGHOP

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Welcome to the first ever bloghop hosted by yours truly, Janie Junebug,  and Cherdo on the Flipside. We want to know your favorite Christmas memory. We hope you'll visit the other participants in the hop and leave a comment on their posts. It's not too late to sign up. Go to the bottom of this post to join us and to find the blogs of all the participants.

Here's my favorite Christmas memory:

The nursing home felt sad and lonely throughout the holiday season. Christmas carols played over and over sounded tinny, and could barely be heard. Decorations didn't do much to spruce up the building. It was called a nursing home, but it was no home.

I always volunteered to work my seven p.m. to seven a.m. shift on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so someone who had young children could have the time off. We had been promised food for Christmas Eve, but by the time I arrived on Christmas Eve, the sandwich makings in the employee kitchen looked unpalatable. The lettuce turned brown. The cheese had a crust. The bread had gone AWOL.

I went about my rounds, as usual. All my patients were settled in bed. We had almost reached midnight when I entered Josie's room. I needed to check the flow of her oxygen and turn her from one side to the other in an attempt to prevent bed sores.

Josie was still awake. She looked sad, as she so often did. As I worked, I chatted and questioned her about the past. I hoped to bring out a happy remembrance of the holiday. Her memory was spotty, but she valiantly sought words so she could talk to me.

I wish the Lord would take me now, Josie moaned. I just want to die.

I remained quiet. She might tell me what troubled her.

When I was young, she said, I had a baby, but my husband wouldn't marry me. He married me later, but he wouldn't marry me then. I lied to all my friends at church and said I was a married woman. I . . . I . . . was embarrassed and scared that people would find out.

I couldn't take it anymore after a while, and I tried to drown myself because I was so ashamed. But it didn't work. My daughter knows about it. She says, Why didn't you leave him? I tell her I didn't have anyplace to go. Where would I go? 

A lot of women have that problem, I said. 

I've always been so afraid that God won't forgive me for having a baby when I wasn't married and for trying to kill myself.

We talked more. Josie opened her heart to me as she continued the story of abuse by her husband. He came in occasionally for visits. He didn't appear very nice. Josie's daughter was notorious for her nasty attitude toward staff members and her mother. The daughter came in for lunch every day. When she thought no one saw, she ate the food from her mother's meal tray.

When Josie stopped talking, I said, You know, it's Christmas. 

It is? she asked, surprised.

Yes, it is, and I can promise you that God forgives you. As soon as you ask his forgiveness, he grants it. You don't have to ask him over and over.

I didn't know that, Josie said. Her eyes grew wider. She seemed more awake and in control of her faculties.

I had to move on to my next patient. Merry Christmas, I told Josie as I kissed her soft cheek.

Merry Christmas, she answered. And don't tell the other girls what I did.

I won't tell anyone, I promised.

I left her room and spotted a handsome young man at the nurses' station. We rarely had a visitor in the middle of the night.

I hurried toward him. May I help you? I asked.

I'm sorry to come in the middle of the night, but it's the only time I can get here. I want to see my grandmother. Her name is Josie W______.

I'll take you to her, I said. She's awake.

I ushered him to the door of her room. I saw a smile--a real smile--cross her face. I had never seen her smile before.

I heard the scrape of a chair as he pulled it over to sit next to her. 

Their voices became murmurs. 

I thanked God for the gift of the grandson's visit. I had never seen him before, and I never saw him again. 

After that night, Josie seemed more at peace. It served her well when she developed a bed sore on her leg that led to the amputation of the limb. She was still alive when I had to quit my job to move away.

I've always prayed that death came quickly to Josie, to wrap her in the arms of a loving Christ and a forgiving God.

That's my favorite Christmas memory because I knew that God sent Josie's grandson when she needed to see him--needed to see him desperately. Through God, all things are possible.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug







51 comments:

  1. Here come the tears. Bless her. And bless her grandson. That couldn't have been better timing, on either of your parts. You changed her life. With that knowledge, I'm sure she found some sort of peace.

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    1. I was sorry to leave her and so many other patients who depended on me. Quitting the job at the nursing home broke my heart.

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  2. What a beautiful memory! I totally believe in Christmas miracles and in little (and big) gifts from God all year long. You just have to be open to them and look around.

    Merry Christmas, dear Janie! Love you!

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    1. Miracles happen every day, all the time.

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  3. Hi Janie - a really heart-warming story .. and how wonderful of the grandson to visit and give Josie some happy memories of the years she struggled - he will do her credit .. and like you I hope she was able to pass on quietly in due time ... have a happy Christmas and seasonal time ... Hilary

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  4. Oh Janie so sweet and even bittersweet, but so right you are! We ask and we are forgiven. I thank God that you had that lovely opportunity - may you always be blessed, my friend.

    Here's to a very Merry Christmas. Give Franklin a Christmas hug for me(smile).

    Love,
    Dixie

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    1. I shall give Franklin that hug in about thirty seconds. He's in the room with me. He likes the space heater.

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  5. That was...moving. You almost made me cry. Almost. Hold on, I have to callous my heart back over after you chipped your way to its tiny center with that story. Aside from her grandson visiting, you gave her a great gift by just listening to her story. Great memory and I thank you for sharing it.

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    1. Didn't you almost cry over Kinley Kianwi's post? You need to get a grip, dude. Thanks for hopping with us.

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  6. awww what a great story! gave me goosebumps as I was reading..

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  7. Janie, I have tears in my eyes. What a blessing you were to her, and then for her grandson to stop by. An awesome God, for sure.

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    1. Oh, yes. Many people make Christianity more complicated than it is.

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  8. Hello, dear Janie Junebug! Thank you for sharing this story and bless you for volunteering to work the night shift at a nursing home at Christmas so that staffers with young children could be home for the holiday. You gave priceless gifts to Josie and all the other residents, the gifts of your time, attention and caring. In Josie's case, your words reassured her and eased her troubled mind after a lifetime filled with shame and regret. What a wonderful surprise, a small Christmas miracle, when her grandson came to see her that night. God bless you for being who and what you are, Janie, and for sharing such a special story with us.

    Now, here is a Christmas memory that I would like to share with you and your readers.

    "My Father's Last Christmas"

    My father was a photographer, oil and watercolor artist and cartoonist. Dad's favorite cartoon character was Jiggs from Jiggs and Maggie aka Bringing Up Father, a comic strip that began publication in 1913, the year he was born. At some point in his life Dad adopted Jiggs as part of his signature. Every year when I received a birthday card or Christmas card from my father, he signed it “Dad” and drew a portrait of Jiggs next to it. On Christmas day, 2001, I phoned my dad as I had done every Christmas in the years since I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. The moment dad picked up I knew something was terribly wrong. He didn't sound like himself. His voice trembled with stress and he seemed eager to cut our conversation short. He told me he had a doctor appointment that morning, had to rush and that he would call me later. A doctor appointment on Christmas Day? I was stunned by my father’s abrupt manner, but he left me no choice other than to hastily wish him a merry Christmas, say goodbye and hang up. I never heard my father’s voice again. A short time later, my dad walked into a hospital emergency room under his own power, was placed on an examination table and died before anything could be done to save him. My father died on Christmas day. Remarkably, his father, my grandfather, also died on Christmas day. I got the news of my father’s death from my brother who had driven him to the hospital that day. Immediately I booked a flight and prepared to make the trip north to attend the funeral. On the 26th of December, the day after my father died, the day before I flew back home, I went to the mailbox and found a late arriving Christmas card from York, PA. It was signed “Dad” and next to it was the familiar sketch of Jiggs.

    You might be wondering how I could possibly consider such a sad Christmas to be a "favorite" memory. I can and do because I learned that we all have the power to choose the meaning we attach to circumstances and events. This story is a favorite Christmas memory because it reminds me of my dad’s strength and courage. Although living alone without my mother who had died 7 years earlier, my father remained active. He hiked and rode his bike until the end of his life. He focused outward, paying friendly visits to family and friends. My father was loved and respected by everyone who ever knew him. This bittersweet memory reminds me that my father always gave 100% of himself to his job, to his family and to me. Although he was not the demonstrative type and rarely if ever uttered the word “love,” his actions spoke volumes. I knew that my dad loved me every time I saw that image of Jiggs.

    Happy Monday, dear Janie!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your memory, Sir Shady. I'm glad your dad was loved and respected. That says a lot about him. I'm sure he was proud of you.

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  9. So I confess I remembered about this blog hop only at the last minute! But I'm posted and ready to go, ha ha :)

    This was such a sweet, heart warming story. It is so sad how a regret from so many years before can torment someone. But God placed you and the grandson in the perfect place and time to help Josie get past some of that torment. Definitely a Christmas miracle :)

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    1. Josie was eighty years old and still suffering from the shame of the past.

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  10. That was an incredibly touching story. It's sad how many women were practically forced to marry back then because of social pressure. And you say he came in for visits? He just shoved his wife off in a home? I could never imagine doing that to mine. I'm glad to hear you helped make her Christmas special, and I hope your own Christmas is a good one.

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    1. She was better off with us than she would have been with her husband. He wouldn't and couldn't take care of her.

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  11. A beautiful story, Janie. So much needless guilt in the world.

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    1. Yes, Debra. I felt guilty about so many things. Then I got divorced and got rid of the person who so gladly put the guilt on me.

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  12. Oh, this was a beautiful Christmas memory! You were the right person for the Night, bringing the message of God's Forgiveness which, of course, was the point of Christ's Birth and Death on the cross. God's gift to us was His Son - the embodiment of God's Forgiveness.

    And then you gave that message as a Christmas gift to Josie, just before she received another gift in the form of a caring relative.

    Great Christmas memory!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Thank you. I've always been glad I was there that night.

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    2. AH-HA! It WAS you! Son-Of-A-Foregone-Conclusion! (I literally have NO IDEA what that means. It just popped into my head and so I wrote it. My thoughts often go straight from my mind, to my fingers, to the screen without any editing. I s'pose you've noticed that.)

      This story was just as heartwarming the second time around. I didn't really tie this story and you together until you mentioned the other day on Gem Julie's blog that you had worked in a nursing home.

      Hey, JANIE, nice to meet you again! Wow, Christmastime of 2014 seems like a long, Long, LONG time ago to me now. (My last "G" wasn't even capitalized back then.)

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

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  13. Hi, Janie,

    I have tingles and goosebumps all over... That was such a lovely, bittersweet story. I am so proud of you to chose such a heartfelt memory. And yes, God does forgive and bring us what we need when we need it most.

    Wishing you a WONDERFUL and PEACEFUL holiday season!

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  14. Not an easy life, and a moment made easier by a grandson's visit.

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    1. Her life had been so unhappy. She was better off when her husband didn't visit.

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  15. JJ, you gave me goosebumps with that story. Her grandson's visit was like a Xmas miracle. Thank goodness (and greater forces) he was her gift that Xmas, near the end of her life (presumably). You were too!

    A blessed Christmas week and much love to you. xo

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    1. I wish you a beautiful Christmas. I've always thought of the grandson's visit as a miracle.

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  16. Wow!. that was a really moving story. I hope she found peace.. and I'm so glad she had you to talk to , and a lovely visit from her grandson.

    imagine.. the pressure we put on ourselves.. that society often puts on us

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    1. She seemed more at peace, especially after she saw her grandson.

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  17. That's a lovely, bittersweet story. I'll be thinking about it all day.

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  18. Aw, what a great story.

    Merry Christmas, if I don't "see" you before then.

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    1. Merry Christmas to you. I drove past The Silver Fox today (the gentlemen's club here in Jax). It's still open.

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  19. What a wonderful story! Because of your kindness, I think she found peace.

    Thanks for hosting the blog hop. It was a great idea!

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    1. Thank you, Mama. Your approbation means a great deal to me.

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  20. God forgives anyone who asks for forgiveness. That's how I try and live my life too.

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    1. Oh, yes. It's good you know the truth.

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  21. He almost sounded ghostlike.

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    1. Yes, but he was definitely real. He was her daughter's son. We were shocked that such a woman had a kind, good looking son. The daughter was awful.

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  22. Yes, you were meant to be there. Heartwarming story and a great memory to have.

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  23. So sad and touching. Glad you were there to see her in that one moment of happiness with her grandson and to share such great words with her right before. Hope she went in peace when her moment came.

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  24. Janie, It speaks volumes that you worked on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day to help other employees, as well as the patients. You also treated Josie more like a friend than a patient, and that's what she needed most. Your talk lifted a heavy burden from her shoulders, and put her in a better mood to see her grandson. How horrible that she lost her leg from a bed sore. Apparently the rest of the staff didn't provide the same level of care. Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story, Janie! Merry Christmas to you, and your family!

    Julie

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    1. Although our staff members weren't perfect, Josie got her bed sore in a hospital. When we had to send our patients to the hospital, they almost always came back with bed sores. Merry Christmas to you!

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  25. You were an angel to her as well and i don't think you know it. You gave her a listening ear and compassion which she rarely received. How sad about her daughter who obviously got some traits from her father. Her Grandson gave her a smile and you were witness to it-how magical is that!

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