“Let me out! Let me out!”
The woman’s voice rang urgent and demanding. My friend, “Lee”, had heard it before. That was the disadvantage in being housed in the first room on the hall of the Rehabilitation Center, next to the code-controlled exit door.
His big advantage now was that he was no longer bed-ridden. He could put on his own back-brace and get into his wheelchair. He knew the lady banging at the door. He’d talked to her before, calmed her, and directed her back to her room on several occasions.
Today he had a gift for her. Seating himself in his wheelchair, he reached for a bead bracelet from the chest beside his bed. (He enjoyed crafting simple things to make people smile.)
“Why, hello, ‘Lillian’!” He approached her slowly.
“No one is letting me out,” she complained.
“That’s because there is no place for you to go when you do get out. Come, sit over here on one of these easy chairs. I have something for you—a friendship gift that I made.”
He guided her to the chair and offered the bracelet he’d created, choosing colors that he thought she’d like.
Slipped Bracelet on Her Wrist
“When you wear this, you’ll remember that you have friends here who care about you and don’t want you to leave.” He slipped the bracelet on her wrist. “People love you and want you to stay.”
Lee pointed her out to me a couple weeks later when I visited him and accompanied him to the dining room. The bracelet was on her wrist and she talked happily with her table-mates. “She hasn’t tried to run away since,” he said, gentle satisfaction in his voice.
“And there,” he said softly, nodding toward another woman, “is the lady I told you about earlier.”
I remembered the story. She had a large family, including several great-grandchildren. She’d been depressed that no one had visited her lately. “I’ve decided not to give my usual Christmas checks this year,” she told Lee. “Maybe then they’ll think about visiting me.”
He’d listened quietly, letting her go back to her room feeling justified in her decision. But later, after considering the words he would speak, he sought her out and told her of the kind and generous person he knew her to be. “I’ve been thinking about the ‘be-attitudes’ of the Bible. None of us knows when our life will end. Would you want your family’s last memory of you to be that you were upset with them?”
She’d gazed at him thoughtfully, then slipped her fingers beneath the neck of her blouse and pulled out a cross on a chain. “I’ve kept this hidden, but I believe in the Book, too. Thank you for reminding me. I’ll send the gifts. I want them to always remember that I deeply love them.”
“Blessed are those who make peace! for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).