When I went off to college, I already had a dream
of being a nurse as I had worked as a nurses' aid throughout high school.
So as I entered college, I worked again as a nurses' aid, and after 3 years,
entered nursing school
The most important person in my life during those
three years was a lady I met my first day at work, at the hospital there.
She had been there for over ten years. Yes, you read right - over
ten years! She had been brought in by family very ill and they never
came back. She had encephalitis, and never regained her health.
When I met her, she could not talk nor communicate, and was considered
a "vegetable" but the sisters that ran the hospital had taken her in as
a "border." This was in the early 60's when hospital care was very
different, and long term care was not available without funds.
Everyone seemed very fond of her, and I was drawn
to her with no reason I could explain. She made eye contact, but
that was the only way I saw her communicating. But I noticed that
nurses and aides spent a lot of time talking to her.....it seemed weird,
but did not surprise me. I knew she was special to everyone that
We had an aid on that floor who was mentally
handicapped, and did amazing work. She was never given responsibility
to make decisions, but could carry out many of the duties the rest of us
did...and many times better. She had a tender heart for our patients.
I would see her hobbling down the hall, and always humming a tune, always
cheerful, no matter what was asked of her.
She taught me much about becoming a nurse that
loved unconditionally - and that had nothing to do with any knowledge I
gained through my studies. Her patients loved her and seemed to "catch"
her gentle peace.
Yes, she was special - but the lady I am really
talking about here is Jeannie, the patient I mentioned.
The nurses' aide I just told you about took care of Jeannie everyday she
worked. And those were Jeannie's best days. As I observed them,
and became connected to them, I noticed something else. Jeannie could
make grunting noises, but could not form any words...but as I watched Jeannie
and this aide, it became very evident that they were communicating.
Not just talking, but communicating on a deep level..
The more I watched the two of them, the more fascinated
They laughed together and cried together!
Jeannie's whole body would shake and her eyes water as this aide would
laugh...she was laughing!
On her bad days, Jeannie's was obviously in pain,
and the tears would roll - and the aide's tears also were flowing.
She understood what was happening with Jeannie.
I had a hard time understanding this aid's words,
but eventually got to where we could talk. Then I realized,
Jeannie was talking just like her but her muscles could not form the words
well!!! Jeannie and the aide laughed mercilessly at me when I finally
figured out that Jeannie was talking!! In the 10 years she had been
there, only this aide- with no education- had been able to see Jeannie's
Soon after that, we moved into a new hospital,
and Jeannie was put on the "stroke" floor and we were all transferred there
too. She had a bed by a window there-- the first she had seen of
the outside world for ten years! You can imagine her delight to watch
the things we miss every day. She discovered the new cars, and the
speed they traveled! She saw the changes in the weather we took for
granted. She saw the beauty of every morning and evening that we
so often ignored. She taught all of that knew her to appreciate and
love every day we had!!
In school, I learned about a new concept of message
boards to communicate with post stroke patients (remember this was in the
70's and these were brand new concepts then!)...so I brought the idea to
work, and we learned it with Jeannie. For the first time, she could
spell out her words to us and convey an abstract thought. And oh,
the thoughts she had!
That woman could praise the Lord in ways I had
never heard before - or since!!
She loved God with a love that goes beyond any
comprehension I have. Never did she complain nor whine about her
lot in life - she constantly thanked Him for His love and provision.
She was our counselor and friend. A private
mentor in how to accept life and become victorious and HAPPY no matter
When one of our own nurses was struck down in
a violent crime, she comforted us.
When our head nurse suffered a heart attack and
had to retire, Jeannie was her mentor - restoring her to health.
She loved hearing about our lives, and we all
brought in people to meet her. Everyone who met her loved her- and
knew they had been blessed in meeting her.
This is "Our Jeannie"
Oh, how I pray you may have the pleasure of being
blessed by such a precious person in your life!
I know none of us who knew her will ever forget
- nor will we ever be the same as before we knew