Meet Me At The Wall
There is a brother/sisterhood among nurses. A close friend in the profession can influence how one looks at life and death. When that friend dies, in your heart, they can still speak.
Marlene was the first real friend I made in Waterville, Minnesota.
A widow and a retired Registered Nurse with a cardiac background, she was one of the nurses who assisted in the first heart transplant in Minnesota decades ago.
The day I closed on my house in Waterville, she was out watering her lawn. It was July, hot and sunny. I was just moving in.
She greeted me warmly. I took an instant liking to her.
She owned a dachshund she called "Bailey." Bailey use to belong to her daughter, but Marlene adopted Bailey under the threat of Bailey no longer being wanted.
Any time I was outside working in the yard, or doing laundry, Marlene was outside too. We chatted at the garden wall, often laughing at the antics of the hummingbirds that would dive bomb us at the clothesline. Marlene hung the birdfeeder at the end of it.
It was great fun!
We'd share a cup of coffee and laugh a lot.
We each had a yard with very old trees. She was on 6 acres. I was on less than one.
When a big storm or windy day would occur in our area, we both lost a lot of branches and the piles were great in both of our yards. My cousin who visited on occasion to help me around my old Victorian house, often helped me pick up the branches for Marlene.
She was advanced in years and had serious health issues so she was not able to gather branches. She did however, cut the grass on her riding lawnmower.
When she had a medical emergency, she would call me before calling 911. That always worried me, but it worked out.
At the end of a late shift at the hospital where I worked in a neighboring town, I would often get home quite late and tired.
It wasn't unusual to have a plastic bag tied to my doorknob of my outer door filled with baked treats, homemade bars, brownies, zucchini bread, or some soup.
In return, I would weed her garden or help shovel a walk way for Bailey in winter so she could "do her business" comfortably in the snowy weather, or cook a meal for us.
Any time she wanted to see me and speak with me, she would either call, or email me and say, "Meet me at the wall, " and I would oblige, always glad to see her.
Marlene had a good outlook on life. She always was interested in what I had to share and she listened. She was the big sister I never had. She was a comfort to me after my mothers' death.
She was so kind to me over the years I grew to love her and cherish the times we shared. The lunches, the holidays, even the hospital emergencies I had with her.
I had left for Texas for a couple of years after I sold my house in Waterville. Upon my return, I learned from the person who purchased my home that Marlene was very ill and in a nursing home.
I drove 2 hours one way to find her. I learned earlier that she had only possibly 2 weeks to live. She had a cat that was in danger of being put down as her family didn't wish to care for it.
I sped to the nursing home, praying I would have time to see her. She was sitting in a chair, on oxygen.
When I flew into her room, she was startled, staring at me, and then realizing who I was, she burst into tears and cried, "How did you find me? I thought I wouldn't get to see you..." Then she sobbed, catching her breath, "The doctor says only 2 weeks."
I held her a while. We both cried. "Marlene," I said, reaching into my pocket.
"I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to see you so I wrote you a letter. I would like to read it to you now." She was eager to hear it.
Trying hard to choke back my emotions I began:
I don't have the words to describe how full my heart is right now. Cathy told me of your illness and circumstance. I did not want you to leave us, not knowing how much your love and friendship have meant to me. You were there for me when Mom died and your kindness toward me and Brinkley (my golden retriever now gone), has meant much!
The word Friend, just doesn't seem to fit for such a sacred relationship.
We had a 5 word phrase that you and I would say to one another: "Meet me at the wall." How I will miss that phrase and your voice.
How I will miss our hanging out the linens on the clothesline in your backyard, the diving hummingbirds and the sparkling fireflies we watched together from the porch while eating ice cream on those hot summer nights!
Those cool crisp fall afternoons hauling dead branches to our bonfire while you watched and waved from your back stoop.
You are closer to me than family. Remember that. I love you.
So, when my time comes, and you're up there listening, when you hear that I am coming to the gates of Heaven, Meet me at the wall....
Marlene said those words with me, as I read the letter.
I saw her one last time. She was very tired. It was Mother's Day Sunday. I did not wish to exhaust her so I helped put her to bed. The staff didn't mind. She closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
I quietly and slowly straightened out her bed linen, organized the items on her bedside table and straightened the flowers on the edge of her window.
The tears began to flow. I wiped them away with the back of my hand.
I gently kissed her cheek and whispered, "Don't forget. Meet me at the wall."
A week later, I learned that while ambulating in the hall, she collapsed. EMS arrived too late.
I made arrangements to adopt her cat and I still have Esther. Marlene's picture is on my bookshelf in plain view. I tell her I am taking good care of her kitty.
Once in a while, as I watch the sun set in the west, I see Marlene in my mind and I say, "Don't forget...Meet me at the wall."
About Have Nurse, ASN, LPN, RN Pro
Cynthia is a grandmother, R.N., Infection Control Dept. Head, a Christian, and a lover of nature, Old fashioned and loves dark chocolate!
Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 379; Likes: 599Apr 11Dang sweaty eyeballs! Seriously, this is a beautiful story and I'm glad I read it even though I knew I would cry. Thank you. You're a good writer.Apr 12Quote from NurseCardThank you. The anniversary of her death is next month. I admit, I am a bit emotional this week.What a wonderful, sweet story. Thank you.Apr 12Quote from amoLuciaMe too!! Thank you for reading!Sweaty, salty eyeballs here too.Apr 12Quote from VivaLasViejasYou are kind! I cried writing it. Had to start over twice, dang!Dang sweaty eyeballs! Seriously, this is a beautiful story and I'm glad I read it even though I knew I would cry. Thank you. You're a good writer.Apr 12Quote from StellababyReading this and and episode of "this is us" really put me over the edge!
Thank you so much!Apr 12What a grand and precious opportunity for you and Marlene to share a period of life. Excellent celebration of her by sharing with us. Thank you, you DID make an OldDude cry...
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