I See Glory...


She was a frail woman. Hair totally white and coarse. Her skin was so ebony that it appeared a deep hue of blue. Her tiny frame was already curled up in the fetal position. Her breathing was fairly normal and her pulse was regular... slow, but, steady. She looked like someone's grandma lying there, but no one was at her bedside. I checked her chart and she was a patient from the local nursing home. She had one son who lived in Arizona. She was alone.

I worked the midnight shift, 11 pm to 7 am. I was a new nurse in terms of experience. I was also very unsure of myself. It was a good thing as far as the patients were concerned. I made extra rounds every night to satisfy my well being. I wanted to make sure my patients were comfortable, IV's were running on time and to possibly catch any problems early. I had figured out that you never just had one problem... usually, if one thing went wrong, the entire night was going to be wild.

If the night was quiet, I would go ahead and give a couple baths in the early mornings to the patients who were already awake or the ones whose condition was such that a warm bath would only make them more comfortable. Ms. Sally, the little ebony granny, was one patient that I paid the extra attention to. To have lived 93 years and to be dying alone, just tugged at my heart strings. I would bathe her with warm soapy water and try to be careful and modest as to not deny her dignity in her last days. I would turn her and lotion her and sing old hymns quietly the entire time. Both of my Grannies were Christians and I assumed all elderly people loved the Lord. She quickly turned into my favorite patient. I knew she needed me more than the others did.

In the 10 days she was in the hospital, she never spoke a word. She never even moaned when I faithfully turned her every 2 hours. One night I was humming "Amazing Grace" and actually thought I saw the corners of her mouth turn up... maybe a smile? No, that couldn't be possible. The doctors had assured me she was truly comatose. She didn't respond to painful stimuli or loving gestures. Her muscles were stiff as she continued to grow more into the shape of a ball. Her knees had moved toward her chest and her arms were drawn in toward her body. It was quite difficult to position her body using pillows to make her comfortable with all her muscles contractured. It did not detour me in trying.

I came in on my shift and immediately went to Ms. Sally's room. She had been in my dreams during my sleep that day. I opened the door and saw that she was covered with perspiration. Her eyes were open and glassy. As I put my stethoscope to her back, it sounded like her lungs were full of water. I immediately called the doctor and after much encouragement from me, he ordered IV antibiotics. I made my other rounds and everyone else was status quo. I knew, if possible, I'd spend the biggest part of my shift in her room. I did not want this little woman to die alone. I called her son in Arizona and discussed her condition. The man was surprised. He knew she was in the hospital, but had no idea she was there because she was dying. The man was also elderly and in very poor health. I couldn't help myself, and before we hung up I had to ask him. "Is your mother a Christian?" He told me that his mother was the closest thing to a saint that he had ever known. My instincts were right. I felt the same way - even though she'd never acknowledged my presence at her bedside.

Her pulse began to get very irregular. I called the doctor again. By this time it was 3:30 am and he wasn't happy with me. "The woman is old and dying, Sue!" Can I get an EKG? I was grasping at straws... and hope. He wasn't an unkind man, just more experienced than I, but he agreed. This was over 25 years ago and the EKG machine was like what we now know as fax machines. I hooked her up (with a great deal of difficulty) to the machine and called a number in some far away big city and they would read the EKG and send the results back. It was a very modern machine for such a small hospital in the hills of Tennessee. Nothing was too good for Ms. Sally.

The respiratory tech, Rod, was in the room with me and we waited for the reading to come back. Ms. Sally's respirations were now very shallow and absent at times. She still had the EKG tabs attached to her chest and connected to the machine. Ms. Sally's heart rate was very rapid with spaces of very irregular beats.

All of the sudden, something happened that shook our spirits to the very core. Ms. Sally slowly straightened herself and sat up in bed. Her skinny withered arms were outstretched toward the heavens. Her eyes were no longer glassy and she did not appear to see anything around her in the room. To her, we were not there. She spoke in a crackly voice just above a whisper, "I see Glory... it's so beau-ti-ful!" She fell back on the pillow and the EKG machine blasted a siren. Her heart had stopped beating. She was now in the glory of Heaven where all faithful and Godly saints spend eternity.

Through the years, as a nurse, I've witnessed many divine interventions. Nurses are blessed that way. I've seen miracles and I've seen patients that have claimed to actually see Satan as they laid in their death beds. But, I've always been amazed at how God allowed me to glimpse Ms. Sally leaving this world and view the miracle of watching her enter heaven. At times of doubt, yes, we all have them, my mind always remembers Ms. Sally and I'm once again reassured of how we can choose to spend eternity. I want to go where I know the saints I've known in this world are experiencing all the beauty that Ms. Sally saw that morning as her spirit soared toward GLORY.

Sue Henley copyright 9/10/02 doupray2@charter.net

After 27 years in nursing, I still work part time. I live in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee. I've been married to Leonard forever and have two wonderful daughters! I'm a blessed woman! I have many more stories about my patients in the archives of 2theheart!

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