72 year old Juan came to the United States from Puerto Rico when he was just 16. He has been living in the same apartment in Chicago for 40 years. His health has recently declined and his daughter Nellie would like for him to come and spend his final days with her and her family in Philadelphia. She has come to Chicago to get things together in effort to make this happen.
We arrive at his apartment, ring the buzzer to gain access and make our way up 3 flights of narrow, circular, winding stairs to his apartment. There is no elevator. We are greeted by his home hospice nurse as she shares with us that he has just told her, he is not going to Philly today.
As I looked just past her, I can see Juan sitting at the table in his shorts having just received his breathing treatment. I walk over and kneel down to introduce myself to him explaining that we are here to take him to his daughter Nellie’s home today. His reply, “well, I guess I better get dressed then.”
With the help of his nephew he made his way to the bedroom to change his clothes. Once inside his bedroom he told his nephew, “they can just wait until I am ready!” And we did just that. Within a few minutes he emerged all 104 pounds of his feisty little self and looking very dapper I might add.
He looked like he was ready to go out in style with his dark pressed jeans, long-sleeved red checkered button down shirt neatly untucked and a dark suede coat. I thought he was ready to go, but then, he donned his fedora hat.
Ahhhhh!!….now looking much like Humphrey Bogart, this hat is truly like the cherry on top of a sundae. To put it simply….Juan is styling!!!
He took his seat in the stair chair that would be use to transport him back down those stairs. As he leaned back, with a gleam in his brown eyes and a smile that would melt your heart, despite his spunky attitude he softly said, “now this is nice.”
Off we went, down to the lobby where we transferred him to the cot. As we exit his building there are several neighbors waiting to bid him good-bye.
They said they had been his neighbors for 20 years and it is easy to clearly see how much they love Juan.
He is like an emperor as he bids them good-bye, waving from his throne and with tears spilling out of their eyes they tell him how much they love him. It was a sweet compassionate farewell.
We prayed prior to placing him on Abe and he did remarkable during his flight. I took a picture to send to Nellie who had been driving all night in hopes to arrive in Philly ahead of us.
When we landed I called her to let her know we were there. Unfortunately she and her mom were still about an hour from home.
We took Juan to her home and were greeted by her husband (whose name is also Juan) and their 2 daughters.
Once again there are stairs in our future, however this time it is a straight shot up only 1 flight.
We place Juan on the side of the bed and prayed for him. With his permission we snapped a picture with him so that I can send it to Nellie.
He is adamant about not wearing his oxygen mask for the picture so we were quick about it.
As we left his room his son-in-law sat gently next to him on his bed placing his arm around him and is joined by his 2 granddaughters.
It was such a sweet moment that I asked if I could take another picture.
Once again Juan removed his mask and I watched him as he looked at himself in the mirror from the corner of his eye, making sure his fedora was cocked just right as he struck a pose.
He’s definitely got moxey!!
As we rode back to the airport Chris, Eric and myself reflected on how much we enjoyed our time with Juan. I received a text from Nellie thanking Grace on Wings for the time she will get to spend with her father.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among
your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the Lord .
Thank you to Hal, Chris and Eric for sharing this mission with me. Many blessings
Shelli Engle RN
Plane fun fact:
So today as we fly into Pennsylvania it is the eve of a huge holiday here….you guessed it…..”Groundhog Day!”
This tradition was actually brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants when they settled here many years ago. It has been celebrated here in the states since 1887. Punxsutawney Phil is surrounded by a group known as the “Inner Circle” who are recognized by their tuxedos and top hats.
It is claimed that this one groundhog has been living since 1886 and is sustained by “groundhog punch.” ( I am not sure what is in that punch, but it sounds like I could benefit from it. ) In reality a goundhogs lifespan is roughly 6 years. So now, you decide, how do you “Phil” about that ?!?