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Touched by angels (04/18/2010)
By Janet Lewis Burns
“I work at Season’s Hospice in Rochester. Being with the dying in their last hours has strengthened my faith in God and my hope that there is a better life. All the patients come to a certain kind of peace within. Not one has struggled or been fearful at the end.” -Mary Schumann, Rochester

Most of the caregivers who nurse the dying have that outlook. In the April Guideposts an enlightening story by Trudy Harris, RN, offers a similar message. She writes, “Death is an ending only for those of us still wrapped up in the story of our earthly lives.” Harris has written a book entitled “Glimpses of Heaven.”

In the article she writes, “One after another, patients recounted not just visits from absent loved ones but an extraordinary awareness of God’s presence.” “Grievances they’d spent a lifetime nurturing vanished in a rush of reconciliation. Even unbelievers unaccountably yearned for God...”

Harris muses, “From the perspective of the dying, death is a strange and wonderful beginning, a threshold to some new and more beautiful world.”

Mary Schumann is my younger sister. I believe Mary was always destined to be a caregiver and a nurturer. That has been her loving and kind nature throughout her life. I am reminded of an incident from our youth when Mary was the bravest little girl ever. There was a slab of blacktop and basketball hoops along the edge of the school property nearest our home. I know we were very young, and probably weren’t supposed to be there. Sure enough, disaster struck as we bent over to play in a sizable hole in the blacktop where rainwater had accumulated.

Mary’s arm emerged from the hole covered with blood, cut on jagged glass. We held onto each other as we ran home to the back screen door. I don’t remember this, but I can imagine our doting, loving mother’s horror when she saw us, the freshly laundered, cotton dresses we always wore covered in blood!

Dad worked at a downtown grocery and always walked the three blocks to and from work. Mom didn’t drive, so she frantically phoned him. Ronnie and I were scared silly! Our neighbor Gretchen Kletzke tended to us. She was a somber, older lady with thick, red hair pinned high on her head, who liked to play canasta with Mother.

Mary wasn’t even crying as they drove off to the local doctor’s office with a towel around her wrist. Old Doc Satterlee wasn’t known for his gracious bedside manner. Our tiny, blonde-headed sister, with silent tears streaking her cheeks, came home in an angelic calm.

As the story was relayed time and time again, the cut along her lower arm was dangerously close to the main artery. If severed, she could have bled to death. Doc Satterlee had stitched up her arm without deadening the pain, and she didn’t make a sound.

Happy birthday to Mary, on Thursday, April 22nd...my sister, my friend! You’ve been my rescuer countless times...I will always recall.

A memory that brings smiles to our family is the recollection of our dearly departed Aunt Ellen’s singing debut. In her later years, for no particular reason, she would blurt out, in its entirety, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart!”

Because she was nearly deaf, her rendition was delivered loud and clear! Spirits were lifted at the very notion of the gesture! It seemed appropriate to her loved ones to sing the tune at Aunt Ellen’s memorial service. It was a fitting way to say “farewell” to an endearing, charming soul...an angel among us.

Memories tucked away, coaxed out of storage at special times, keep our loved ones near and dear. As you become a memory to others...

...be gentle on their hearts and easy on their minds.

Janet Burns would like to thank all the angels who have enriched her life. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.

 

 

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