Today we had the pleasure of meeting Shirley and her loving family!
Shirley had moved to Harlingen with her husband to enjoy a happy retirement. Harlingen is a beautiful town in Southern Texas. The weather is nice, and it’s proud residents are very friendly. If you haven’t pulled out the map yet, Harlingen is about as far south in Texas as you can go and still be in the United States.
A tragic series of unexpected events had left Shirley in a condition needing help to care for herself while living far away from her loving family. Approximately 4 months ago she suffered a stroke. She is now confined to bed and unable to communicate. Since the stroke, she has required skilled nursing care and has been a residing in an LTAC facility that can provide for her needs. In addition to her decline physically, Shirley has also recently suffered the loss of her husband, who has gone to be with the Lord. Although she has many friends in Texas that frequently visit her, her daughters and family live in Indiana. It has been extremely difficult for her daughters to travel to Texas to support and care for their mother in order to oversee and provide the care she needed. They quickly came to realize the stress created by this distance so they started searching for a way to get her back home.
This family is very close and desperately needed to find a way that they could provide their mother with skilled care that she required close to home and to get her transported safely with a medical team for the trip home also. This is when Shirley’s daughters contacted Grace on Wings. They told us how desperately they have been working on bringing their mother home and relayed the struggles that they have encountered. So we diligently began preparing the arrangements to unite this family in Indiana.
It was early on a beautiful warm Tuesday morning when we arrived at Shirley’s bedside in Harlingen. Although she was unable to speak related to the damage from the stroke, her eyes told us she knew why we were there, and the joy and excitement of finally being on her way to see her daughters today was evident. She looked at me as she smiled when I said, “Hi Shirley, are you ready to go home and see your daughters?” She responded with a wink and nodded her head “yes”! Shirley had many friends at her bedside to see her off today. They displayed such care and devotion to their friend! It was quickly apparent that these friends of Shirley’s spent a lot of time caring for her. They had many questions for us and offered much advice, such as what she likes, when she has last eaten, what position she is most comfortable in, as well as recent updates on her health. One of these sweet women even expressed her desire to go with us as our “Honorary Flight Nurse”!
We carefully lifted Shirley to our transport cot and made her comfortable, then secured her for the ambulance ride to the airport. Arriving at the airport, the ambulance crew and flight crew gathered around Shirley as Hal prayed over her just before securing her into Nellie. I phoned Shirley’s daughter in Indiana to inform her that we were on our way, and then sent a picture of her mother secured and ready for flight with her aircraft headset on. She stated “I love her so much take good care of her.” I responded “we will, the Lord is watching over us”. “Absolutely” she replied.
If you still haven’t looked at the map yet, Harlingen, Texas to Logansport, IN is approximately 1190 miles. We left the Southern Texas 82 degrees, then several hours later and 30 degrees colder, we safely landed in Logansport, Indiana. Nellie’s door opened to tears of joy as Shirley’s daughters, waiting at the airport for her arrival, were overcome with emotion and peeked inside Nellie’s cabin to see their mother was finally home and safe. I can only imagine the relief and excitement they experienced after all their prayers, planning, and waiting, this day had finally arrived. Carefully, we transferred Shirley to the awaiting ambulance for the ground transport to the new nursing facility located just minutes away from Shirley’s family. There wasn’t a dry eye on the tarmac as we witnessed this moment that the Lord gave this family.
Her family followed the ambulance to the new facility in Logansport. Even though she was obviously tired from her long journey, Shirley’s eyes reflected joy and relief, she is was now home and close to her family. After we carefully tucked Shirley into her new bed, the family, medical crews and nursing staff gathered around her bed as we prayed over her, and praised the Lord for providing a safe mission.
It was a joy and a blessing to serve Shirley and her family today with Hal, Chet and Daniel, with thanks to the ground ambulance crews as well!