It was as if she were mentally wringing her hands, the car steering wheel clasped firmly. How could a petite nurse handle a lanky hospice patient alone?
As her automobile sped across town, Lorna Runge did what came naturally.
“I’m praying, ‘Lord, I need an extra pair of hands,’” said the now “60–something” registered nurse as she recalled her imminent home visit back in 2000. “He was a tall man — I’m only 5 feet — and he’s over 6 feet. I knew I couldn’t turn him.”
The retired nurse had volunteered her assistance when she learned that the husband of a church acquaintance was dying of terminal cancer and spending final days at his Pasco home.
Lorna had worked in local hospitals for years and in her new “leisure” time since retiring had completed classes for parish nursing. Her expertise and the couple’s need seemed to go hand in hand.
But when the call from the elderly patient’s wife came on short notice, Lorna was without anyone to assist her. And that’s when this diminutive nurse had prayed for a big answer.
“When I arrived, a neighbor had just come over to visit and I latched onto him because I thought he could help — be an extra pair of hands — but he was reticent,” Lorna said, recalling her initial relief followed by disappointment.
Never mind. Lorna had a few quick care items to finish before she would make an attempt to turn the patient, predictably unable to lift his own weight in the process.
“God has always given me somebody to come alongside over the years, an extra pair of hands,” Lorna said, explaining how she has cared for several family members.
But her need this time was immediate. What Lorna couldn’t imagine was that help was already on the way.
At the same time Lorna had been praying, a couple across town was just heading out their door with two items on their “to-do” list: mall–walking and dropping off a recorded Sunday sermon.
“We were on the highway,” said Gene Wallace of Richland, Wash., a retired senior technician at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, as he remembered how he and his wife were in conversation. “I asked her, ‘Should we see our friend first or go mall–walking?’”
The decision was made to walk first for an hour or so and then go visit.
But within minutes of the couple’s discussion, the hospice patient’s doorbell rang — the home where Lorna needed help. As the front door opened, there stood almost 6–foot tall Gene, his wife at his side.
“We were halfway to the mall when I heard an audible voice over my shoulder say ‘Go see him now!’ ” Gene said, shaking his head at the memory, a man who has rubbed shoulders with scientists in the workplace and has his name on four patents. “I didn’t want to argue.”
Lorna Runge is glad he didn’t. The extra pair of hands arrived right on time.
Seems like God had the situation in his hands all along.
(Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City Herald. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, “Light Bringer.” If you have a story idea for Light Notes, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)