We have been back home in Oklahoma for a little over a week now. It has been difficult, at times, as we struggle with unpacking and finding where to put things, while our team continues to do medical work in Uganda. Jay will talk more about this in a blog this week. Our mission in Uganda is not over. Our team has 2 more road trips that it is making without us. Then they will be running clinics in Gaba in early July. Faith, Joseph, David, and Dr. Martin are helping us by watching after some of our starfish, to make sure that their care is completed.
When we left Uganda early, we felt comfortable that we should return home to be a support for my parents as my father is scheduled to have an operation, in the morning, at 7am in OKC. As Jay has mentioned before, we had gotten accustomed to looking for “That One Person”, each day, while we were in Uganda. We knew that being home for my dad was our “that one person” for a few weeks. We had let our guard down and were not looking for other “one persons” to show God’s love to on a consistent basis. That being said, I think that God had us to come home early for more than my dad’s illness.
While we were in Uganda, my mom’s sister, Joyce, suffered a severe stroke. This left her with trouble walking, left sided weakness and trouble with her speech. Shortly after this happened, her son, who was 6 years older than me, died earlier than expected, from renal cancer. Joyce had been living in a nursing home and was not making a lot of progress with her physical therapy. This week, Joyce was admitted to the geriatric psych unit at Duncan Regional to try to regulate her medications some. On Wednesday, my mom let me know that we could only visit her from 5:30 to 6:30pm, while in this unit. When we arrived, I had no idea of the rules and regulations of this part of the hospital. I was informed that all visitors must be 18 years of age, and I not only had our three kids under that age with us, but one of Jayne’s friends as well. They were gracious and rolled her right outside the unit into a conference room where we could have a family visit. I was shocked at her physical state. She just weighed a little over 70 pounds. We took a few pictures and she was interested to see them.
The next morning, I realized that I had to go see my “Auntie Joyce” during visiting hours. It was a prompting within my heart by the Holy Spirit. If not for her, for me. I do not want to have regrets and I am learning to make choices so I don’t have them. My Mom and I were headed to a brunch and on the way we received a call from the hospital that we needed to come soon as her vitals were not stable. Joyce had not been eating and drinking well and seemed to be overwhelmed with all of her medical problems. She seemed to have given up. When she was checked into the hospital, her labs were pretty normal except for the fact that she was dehydrated. Joyce was living in chronic pain and was not interested in having an IV started in the hospital. We discussed this choice with her in several ways, and she absolutely did not want an IV.
I asked if I could go in to see her before we had a consultation with the doctor that had called in the family. This was allowed. She was very coherent, just very lethargic. I told her, as tears began to flow, how much I loved her, and that I would always be her Lucy. (That was what she called me.) She has led a very wayward life. I know she has heard the Gospel, but I had to make sure she had one last opportunity to accept it for herself. She is the first person I have ever been bold enough to ask this question. I asked her if I could pray with her. As I was praying, the doctor arrived in the room. I finished and told her I’d be back soon. It was decided, as a family, that she had made her wishes clear and she would have to be “all in” to make the huge strides it would take to have any quality of life. Since the conclusion was determined by the medical staff and our family that she was not willing to be “all in” we believed we should respect her wishes.
Mom and I returned to her room. It was easy to understand her if you asked her a yes or no question. But, when she tried to speak, it was very difficult to understand her. She was so weak, and it took every bit of energy she had to try to get the word out. She began saying a word that began with the letter J. She was turned away from me facing my mom. Mom went through all of our names to see who she wanted. She shook her head no. Mom asked me to come to that side to see if I could understand her. She continued to work at what she wanted to say with diligence. I heard Jees. I asked her are you saying Jesus? She shook her head yes. I asked her if she wanted to be sure that she knew, without a doubt, that she had received Him into her heart personally as her Lord and Savior. She again shook her head yes. I held her hands and asked her to pray in her heart as I prayed aloud.
After we finished this prayer, I told Joyce that I was jealous of all of the family members that she was going to get to see before me. I told her how while in Uganda, I had so many memories of my Nanny and Papa (her mom and dad) and had felt very close to them. I told her that she was going to be met by my Papa (her father) and Josh (her grandson who died who had been murdered at the age of 3 by his father, her daughter’s ex-husband.) I asked her to give Nanny and PaPa a hug from me.
Later that evening, she peacefully stopped breathing and went home to be with Jesus. After spending much of her life alone, she passed away holding my mom’s hand, and was greeted by a throng of angels. It turns out, there was more than one reason for coming home early.