An interesting visit

A Grace in Time

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An elderly lady that I visit on most Shabbos afternoons for lunch recently told me about her family.

All of Mrs. Poldark’s siblings have passed away and she told me how lonely she felt and how much she missed them. The longing of seeing her parents and husband again seemed to bother her now more than ever.

I didn’t know what to say and so I just sympathized with her.

“If you had the power to bring one person back for a visit, who would it be?” I had asked cautiously?” Her gray-blue eyes looked up and flashed at me as she spoke. “Oh, my mother for sure.”

“So much I would want to ask her, to hug and tell her how much I miss and love her.”

“What would you like her to tell you,” I asked.

“Everything! Where she is, what it is like. Does she see family members? Can she talk and walk? Does she see Hashem (G-D)? Will I ever see her again when I die?”

Mrs. Poldark began to cry softly and I hugged her and poured her some more tea.

She showed me photos of her mother, father and husband, then her two brothers and a sister. All were kept in a manila folder that fit into a medium size cardboard box labeled “Precious Memories.”

“Tell me about your friends,” I asked. 

“I have some that live in this building but not many. Most of them have moved to nursing homes or assisted living facilities,” she said.” But I prefer to stay here. I like my apartment. I don’t drive anymore but I am pretty self-sufficient. When I need help, I have a neighbor who I can call or a service that will take me to doctor’s appointments.”

I felt so proud of Mrs. Poldark and admired her independence and ability to make good decisions. I just wished she did not live alone.

Two weeks later I came back to visit for Shabbos lunch and I brought kichel cookies for dipping in her tea.

Mrs. Poldark told me about a dream she had of her mother. She seemed so happy and related the details that she could remember. First, she heard a knock at her door and opened it to see her mother standing there full of life holding groceries.

I grabbed her and brought her into my apartment. It was wonderful!

We sat, but I talked. “I asked her how she was able to be here to see me and my mother put a finger up to her lips and shook her head from side to side. She never spoke.”

I understood she came to me because I prayed for her to visit me.

Next my mother showed me photos of my father, two brothers, sister and my husband.

My understanding, from her holding the photos, was that I would see each one of my family once more before I die.

“I told Mrs. Poldark that I was stunned by her dream, that she made it sound so vivid and real.”

“She laughed it off and said she wished it could be true. By the way, she stated,” I did find this new photo of my mother outside my front door. I put it on my night stand so that I can look at it every day.”

“What do you mean a new photo of your Mom,” I asked?

Mrs. Poldark explained that she did not have that one photo in her collection.” It was different. much younger than remembered her,” she explained.

“Were you surprised, I asked her?” How did the photo get outside your door?”

“I don’t really know, she said, but I’m so glad to have it.”

I am so happy for you and wish you good health and happiness always.”

A business trip would keep me away for the next five weeks, but I wanted to keep in touch with her while I was away. I gave her my phone number where she could reach me and already had her phone number.

“Thank you so much Pauline. I’ll miss you terribly,” she said. “You have become so special to me.” We hugged and I left.

Five weeks later I heard from Mrs. Poldark and she told me she was ill and in the hospital. I told her I would come to visit her right away. I asked if I could bring her anything. “Anything you need?”

“Yes, she said. In my bedroom, on my night stand, you can bring me my new photos of my family. Please bring them to me as soon as possible.”

At Mrs. Poldark’s apartment, I used the key she left me, and went inside. It looked so different. Everything was packed up in boxes and all of the furniture was gone. I went to her bedroom and saw the night stand with the five photos. I gathered them and took them to Mercy Hospital, in downtown Baltimore. I was so grateful to see her.

She looked weak and frail. I gave her the photos and she smiled. She told me she had lots of company in the last weeks and pointed to the photos.

“But I am missing one photo,” she said. “Photo number six, the one of my husband. Maybe while I am here, at the hospital, I will receive it.”

I sat and talked with Mrs. Poldark and asked how she was feeling. She told me that she was 95 years old, although she felt much younger, her body was beginning to fail.

She developed pneumonia and her doctor felt she needed immediate attention as well as around the clock care. 

I felt so sad that I started to cry.

“Please don’t cry Pauline, my husband, hopefully, will show up and I will be with my entire family once again. G-D willing.”

I stayed overnight and slept in a chair by her bed in the hospital room.

During the night Mrs. Poldark passed away in her sleep.

The nurse told me she found a photo outside the door of her room. It was the photo of Mrs. Poldark and her husband when they were young. So this was Photo number six.

I said a prayer for my lovely friend and sadly called the Sol Levinson funeral home.

Read more by Paula Shevitz.

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