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2013-06-27 digital edition

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2013-06-27 / Church

THEY SAID IT

Life Lessons from Hospice Patients

I Don’t Need a Mirror!

Marlene turned 94 last week. She weighs about 80 pounds and seems to get thinner by the week, even though she still eats like the farm girl she is. The youngest of 10 children, she is spunky, determined and opinionated.

Marlene suffers from COPD. She is on oxygen all the time. She loves to talk, but struggles to breathe. That’s really tough duty for this independent, hard–working lady.

“There’s my good friend,” she says as I walk in. “I’m so glad to see you.”

Marlene cares greatly about her appearance. She always comments what a mess she is and how awful her hair looks. On my latest visit, she whipped out some lip balm and began applying it. She looked at me and grinned.

“See there! I don’t even need a mirror. Good thing too. That would scare me to death!” she said, winking.

I howled.

Marlene is a delight. We laugh a lot. I always leave her presence encouraged. Though simple breathing is a chore and getting up from her recliner is a herculean task, she doesn’t let what’s happening to her win. Life comes at her, and she tackles it.

Marlene overcomes. She’s been doing it all her life.

When I’m with her, I never want to leave. I can see the disappointment in her eyes too.

“Thank you for spending time with an old woman like me,” she’ll say. Then she gets serious, points a bony finger at me and continues, “Now go be the good man that you are, or I’ll come after you!”

Yes, ma’am.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice. Visit him on his website at www.garyroe.com

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