Hospital Corners

angel in the clouds

“You pull the sheet up and make a triangle, then tuck it under and fold it down and that is how you make a hospital corner.” My mother, a career nurse, taught me how to make hospital corners when I was a child. Numb with grief, her words wafted through my mind as the hospice team removed the bed from Mom’s assisted living room. Months of ailing had ended. Mom, age 102, went home to God on Valentine’s Day.

It had been a long, grieving process. Each 6-hour trip and overnight stay to visit my Mom, check her health, and speak with care staff should have prepared me—it didn’t.

The night before, the hospice worker called and said she was within days of passing and told me I could speak to my Mom on the phone. Her words reassured me. “I won’t be there tomorrow, but my co-worker will. He will hold the phone to your Mom’s ear and she will hear you.” Dan, my husband, and I rushed to pack suitcases and get on the road early the next morning. Will I be there in time? Will she be able to hear me? I need to call the hospice worker on duty.

My older sister shouldered the lion’s share of organizing Mom’s caretaking team. I wasn’t sure the hospice worker understood who I was. “Hi—I’m Betty’s youngest daughter. We will be on the road soon, but I’d like to speak to my mother, please.” Startled by his matter-of-fact tone and so unlike the woman I spoke with the day before, I sat in stunned silence. “Oh, I am not with your Mom right now. I’m with another patient and won’t be going back to your mom today.” Dan glanced at me, worried by my expression. He knew my silence meant a storm brewed.

“You are a hospice worker. I am afraid she will die before I get there. I need to speak to my mother!” He felt the blast of ice. “Well, um, I can go back to your mom in about 45 minutes after I’m done with the patient I’m with now.”

Jaw clenched, I managed. “Thank you.”

“I will call you when I get to your Mom’s.”

“I appreciate that.”

Suitcases splayed, clothes tossed, calls to a house sitter, cat fed, lights off—it’s time to go!

“Wait! I need to take this call.”

Suitcase in hand, trunk open, Dan stopped.

“Hi—I’m with your mom now if you want to speak to her.”

“Mom, I want you to know we’re on the way. I will be there to help Betty Jo. Don’t worry. It’s okay. You’ve given us so much love and have been the best mom. It’s okay. Everything will be okay. Don’t worry. God is ready to give you a glorious homecoming party. I love you.”

Dan slowed the car through the narrowed construction lane. Orange cones blurred through tears as we pulled into our usual pit stop just an hour away from my Mom. The call came just as we parked the car. “Cindy-I am sorry to tell you that your Mom just passed.”

We traveled that last hour in silence and reverent prayer.

Looking out my window, I caught the image of a heart-shaped sun in the sky framed by clouds forming an angel headed toward heaven. Then, a flash of light in the sky—a glorious homecoming for Mom.

9 responses to “Hospital Corners”

  1. I know how bittersweet this is. I know that she knows how loved she was. I hope you find comfort in that as you hold her memories in your heart and mind. (((HUGS)))


  2. I just read this for the first time. It got lost somewhere between Qatar and the Maldives.
    Found it this afternoon and am with you on the journey.
    What a woman God gave you .. to love His little list girl.
    Oh how He loves you!

    Bless your heart and tears and hope. Love the clouds and angels that welcomed her home. Thank you for sharing.
    Love you dear friend.


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