Friday, August 24, 2007

The Last Steps

The Last Steps
By Franklin P. Smith

Hospice Visit


Pat stood at the threshold of the doorway. He wondered how to approach the little girl in the bed that was holding a stuff pink bunny. He had handled himself well with all the adults that were waiting for the final step in their lives. He didn’t know about dealing or talking to a child about what they were about to experience.

He knew the rule of thumb ‐ let the person doing the talking and take the direction in what they wanted to talk about. This was probably the same approach to take with a child.

“Hey, I’m going around talking to people here for a couple of weeks,” Pat said sitting down next to the bed where the little girl was. He felt really awkward in being and talking to this little girl.

“Hi,” the little girl replied.

“What’s your name?” Pat asked.

“Sally,” replied the little girl. Pat notice the little girls fragile little body. She had red hair with freckles dotted across her whole face. Pat figured that she was around nine years of age.

“How are you doing?” Pat responded.

“Not too good,” Sally replied. “I am so tried and want to sleep all the time.”

“I noticed your bunny.” Pat paused briefly. “Does it have a name?”

“Harry,” Sally replied.

“I’m a writer and I wrote a story about rabbit name ‘Harry’. Its call Harry the Easter Rabbit. Would you like to hear it.” Pat said in a low voice.

“I am kind of sleepy now. Could you come back tomorrow?” Sally asked.

“I can do that,” Pat replied

“Yes, I can. Is there any certain time that you would like me come back?” Pat responded.

Pat came the next day and told her the story, Harry the Easter Rabbit, and told her about the other stories that he had written for children. Sally ask for him to return the next day and the next day to tell her another story that he had written.

In the beginning Sally wouldn’t smile too much but Pat found the key the third day when he told her about how people saw him.

When I was young man I had a dark black beard, I would not shave at times and people would tell me that I look like a big grizzly bear. All I had to do stand up and growl at my children and tell the big grizzly bear would get them if they didn’t clean up their rooms. Being over six feet tall and weighing over 240 pounds, people told me that really look like a big bad black grizzly bear with a two day beard. Now days with my beard turning snowy white and my long handle mustache, my grandchildren tell me that I’m ‘the old walrus’.

Within four days Pat was looking forward to seeing Sally telling her his stories. He could see her eyes sparkle when he would start to tell her one of her stories.

On the sixth day Sally surprised Pat with a startling question. “What is dying?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Pat responded. He knew that a child could spot an adult telling them a lie a mile away especially if they were serious in finding out about what they were asking.

There was a dead silence between the two.

“What do you think?” Pat asked her.

“Mommy tells that I will be happy. I will be seeing Grandma and Papo when I go to heaven,” Sally said in a meek voice.

“Sally,” Pat stop talking trying to regain his composure. “One person told me that it will be totally different than anything that anyone has experienced.” Pat paused momentarily.

“I’ve known people who have gone and come back. They aren’t afraid anymore of doing what you and I will be doing.” Pat paused speaking looking away from Sally.

There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Pat stop talking and looked directly at Sally. She had had her eyes fix on his during the whole time that he had been talking.

“Most of the people I know are afraid of the change,” Pat stop talking and touch her small hand.

“Remember I told you of those magical words in Harry and the Ralph stories. Well, I believe that is what waits each of us. All the Love that we can expect,” Pat stop talking for he could feel his eyes filling full of water. Sally was so sweet and innocent.

He knew that in a matter of days she would be gone from the earth and only her body would remain.

“I guess that is my answer,” Pat replied to break the dead silence between the two.

“I will come back tomorrow and tell you about my Grandfather. He was a character among characters.” Pat said turning his head where she would not see the wetness on his cheek.

Pat came back for several days he adjust his stories where they would either make Sally smile or laugh just a little. Each day he could see her getting weaker and weaker.

The day came when Pat when to her room and the room was empty.

He knew what had happen.

This was the day he stop coming back to the hospice to talk to the people.


Copyright Feb 11 2005
By Franklin P. Smith

**This is an excerpt of Franklin's story as it was too long for the Dew. The total piece contains several stories within the story of various visits to the hospice. If you would like to read the entire piece, please contact Franklin at his site, listed under Dew Contributers.**