by Fran Peck
“What’s that beeping sound?” Grace mumbled to herself as she rolled over to find the source
of the irritating noise that had awakened her. It took her a moment to gain her bearings and
as she did every morning, she reminded herself that she was in a hospital bed and that
„beeping’ noise meant that her heart was still beating and she was still alive. Sometimes she
wished that noise would go away, but then again if it did, the alternative would not be so
good. Grace tried to rub the sleep out her eyes while trying not to jerk the tubing that was
connected to her bony little arms. She knew if she pulled too hard it would tear her oh so
delicate skin and then another stick in the arm would be required.
“Slow motion”, she said out loud, not really knowing why she said it, other than to make
herself aware of the damage that she could do if she made any sudden movements. She
thought she saw a shadow walk past the door. “Hope! Is that you?” she cried out from her
room, but the shadow did not appear, and she wondered if Hope had remembered to grab
her lunch from the kitchen counter. Grace was thinking if she had to drive that bag down to
the grade school one more time, then Hope would be grounded for a year. She laughed at
that thought and wondered what Hope would do if she told her she was grounded.
Another beep, but louder and more irritating than the other one this time. Grace tried to
lean over the edge of the bed to check the catheter bag. Yes, it was full as always this time
in the morning and then the shadow appeared at her bedside. “Good Morning Grace”,
Charity said, as she squatted beside her bed to change the bulging bag. “Looks like you are
doing pretty good, your urine is just the best shade of yellow.”
“Oh, yes” said Grace. “I think I will enter that into the county fair, might get a blue ribbon.”
Charity burst into laughter as she carried the golden bag into the bathroom for disposal.
“Yes, this one is a prize winner for sure!” she said. The daily routine between the two had
become so familiar that sometimes Grace didn’t even know what day it was. “What is
today?”, she asked, but before the nurse could answer, Grace piped up- “No, wait, let me
guess….I think it is Sunday”. “Well, there’s another winner!” said Charity. “How did you
know it was Sunday?”
Grace shut her eyes and started praying to herself. “God, I thank you that I made it to
Sunday. I know that you see me. I thank you for people taking care of me. I thank you for
the life that I have lived and for all the good things you….”
“Grace, how did you know it was Sunday”, Charity interrupted her conversation with God.
“you always amaze me, woman, I hope I am as feisty as you are when I am 97.”
Grace opened her eyes and looked at the middle aged woman in front of her. Charity was
the kindest, sweetest, most patient person that Grace had ever known. There were many
years that others had taken care of her, and some of them Grace wanted to forget. But
there was something different about Charity. She touched Grace in such an easy, caring way.
The others were more like the military police, barking orders and rushing through the day,
just to hurry and get away from her. But not Charity, she was there all the time. She even
lived in Grace’s house. Grace didn’t mind, she knew that Charity had had a hard time in her
life and needed a place to stay, so it was convenient for both of them.
“What!”, Grace yelled and tried to sit up in bed. “I didn’t know I was 97!!!” Oh My God! I
don’t remember being 96….” Grace laid back down on the bed, as Charity pulled back the
curtains to let the morning sun shine in.