On Monday we were contacted by John, a father desperately wanting to bring his daughter Christine back to her family’s home in Massachusetts. He explained that she has been living in Miami for about a year and was just diagnosed 2 months ago with lung cancer that has spread to her bone. He and her mom Juanita went down to visit her in the hospital and knew they needed to do whatever was necessary to bring her home.
Now, here we are, just a short 5 days later on a very rainy Saturday in Miami, to pick up this precious cargo and take her home to her parents. What you may not yet realize is that Chris is 55 years old but, to John and Juanita, still their little girl. (Isn’t this the case for all parents.) As we enter her room her boyfriend Genero is helping her eat some breakfast. He rises to shake our hand and thank us for coming. He will be traveling with her today. Chris tells us how anxious she is to get home to her family.
Her hair is freshly brushed and her nails are all neatly polished and decorated to look like Santa Claus. We gently move her over to our cot with the fragile state of her bones. Now our ambulance crew gently lift her up so I can place pillows where she would like them for her comfort. We enjoyed a laugh as I teased her about being surrounded by these strong handsome guys. Many staff members came in to tell both Chris and Genero good bye wishing them well. She thanked each of them for the great care they had given her and shared how attentive they had been.
Finally we return to the airport and are greeted by Hal carrying a much welcomed umbrella. He held it over Chris doing his best to protect her from the downpour of rain as she was loaded onto Nellie. Our flight today will require a refuel and both she and Genero are obviously exhausted. I quickly sent a picture of her on board and sent it to her family prior to our take-off. They will be flight following. Shortly after we take-off both Chris and Genero were quickly lulled to sleep by the soft constant hum of Nellie’s engines. Jason and I smiled as we watched them sleep.
We passed the time quietly as we flew along the Florida coastline. Before we realize, it is time to refuel. Chris and Genero are now awake and feeling some relief from their naps. Genero got out for a few minutes to stretch his legs but not before giving Chris a kiss and telling her he loved her as he passes by. She has this precious smile not only on her face but in her eyes as she looks at him and repeats the same. He took advantage of this time to snap some photos of Nellie to share with Chris later. Once again I gave her family and brief update.
During the second leg of our flight we spent some time talking. Chris said up until 2 months ago she was getting around well and went in for some routine lab work. Her doctor called and requested she return due to some abnormal readings. It was after further testing that she was diagnosed with cancer. Chris lost her husband of 27 years only 3 years ago from cancer and that is still fresh in her memory. She has 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren ranging in age from 1 to 18 years old.
Her entire family lives in Springfield all within a very short distance of one another. Genero has lived in the same area for 37 years and the 2 of them have been together for about the last 2 years. They have however known one another much longer. He retired from the sheet metal business. They met when the 2 of them began volunteering to transport those with special needs in their local area. He recently moved to Miami to care for his 89 year old mom. With Chris’ recent diagnosis he is all she has in Miami and he has been by her side helping to care for her.
He recognized her need to be back in Springfield with her family. Chris is hopeful that perhaps the doctors back home may have some hope for her condition. She is very patient and definitely not one to complain. She is very torn with not having Genero around once she returns. He will stay as long as he can but will have to return to Miami to oversee his mom’s care. On the other hand she is very thankful for the love of her family and to be with them.
We have landed, no more rain but most definitely much colder than Miami. Our trip to the hospital is short and I call her parents to let them know we will be there soon. They assure me they will be there waiting. We pray with Christine and Genero as they both cry and share their gratitude with us.
As they wait for the hospital staff to come in I make my way to the waiting area to meet her great family. It was quite overwhelming as they all stood, one by one, hugging me and thanking Grace on Wings for making this all possible. I was welcomed by John, Juanita, Christine’s sister, daughter and cousin it was a beautiful homecoming for her.
“WHOEVER WELCOMES ONE OF THESE LITTLE CHILDREN IN MY NAME WELCOMES ME; AND WHOEVER WELCOMES ME DOES NOT WELCOME ME BUT THE ONE WHO SENT ME.”
Their gratitude extends to each of you who have and will continue to pray for this family. Through God all things are possible.
Thank you to Hal and Jason for sharing this mission with me.
Many blessings and may the God of grace and peace bless each of you.
Shelli Engle RN