A Letter To My Special Friends
By Sister Angela Battung RGS
Sister Angela, a regular contributor, introduces us to some of her friends in the nursing home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she works. They include one whose ‘name’ is that of a popular Canadian beer!
My dear special friends,
I want to thank you all for making me a part of your lives.You, each of you, have been and are a blessing to me. Some of you have praised me for some kindness I have done and continue to do for you by ‘bringing Christ’ to you.You have done much more for me than I have done for you.Each time I went to see you, I found Christ waiting for me with you!
Chester, you set the tone for my Holy Communion rounds.You’re the first person I see and when I find you waiting quietly in your chair by the window there’s so much peace in your smile of welcome. We’ve often looked out together at the breathtaking view of the harbor and commented on the weather, the changing seasons, the migration of birds and geese and their eventual return.Your ‘God bless you, Sister,’ makes it easier to go to ‘S,’ who has her TV set on, her eyes glued to it, not praying, just taking the Body of Christ like a cookie for her snack. I didn’t like her until you and Marie told me she was afraid of silence.
Marie, you remind me of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple! You look just as sweet and innocent, hiding behind a sharp wit and intelligence.Thank you for all the mystery books you have given me. They do help me to understand people better.
Marianne, you have so much energy and enthusiasm. I’m sorry I do not always have time to stay longer and hear about your travels and stories about your lovable grandchildren. Congratulations on your first great-granddaughter. I’m sure she’s as beautiful as her great-grandma.
Lena, I’m sorry that you are always asleep when I come but it’s amazing how you look at me with a twinkle in your eyes, your tongue stuck out before I finish the Lord’s Prayer.
Agnes, you and your friends who loved to tease me are now watching over me as you promised. You always insisted on saying the Apostles’ Creed in French.I asked you to make it simple and pray the Notre Père, ‘Our Father.’ You told me you had the right to proclaim your ‘faith in the Holy Trinity, the Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting!’ You called me ‘Sweet Lady, Smiling Lady.’ You knew it embarrassed me so you asked all your friends to say it with you.That really amused the staff.Then you switched to ‘Cookie Lady.’ ‘Here comes Cookie Lady who only gives cookies to Roman Catholics.’ You all had fun ‘accusing’ me of feeding only the hungry RCs when Jesus himself fed crowds unconditionally.
Mrs P, I never got to know your first name but you enjoyed my calling you ‘Mrs Pretty.’ I didn’t know you were dying of cancer until that last day when I found your husband and son holding hands with you as you prayed together for a happy death.I’m glad you’re now beyond pain.
Mrs M. B, you weren’t on my ‘list’ but you asked me one day to ‘Please hold my hands for a few seconds.’You were unable to receive Holy Communion but you believed that ‘a loving and merciful God who put himself’ in my hands would reach out to you through me. You told me that ‘M. B’ meant ‘Molson Beer.’ I always felt it was worth stopping by your wheelchair to hold hands with ‘Molson Beer’ and get refreshed.
You, living and dead, even those whose names I have not mentioned here have nourished me, ministered to me and graced my life. I will end this letter by sharing with you the dialogue between God and Israel in Malachi, Chapter 1 – my experience of God’s love, thanks to you. ‘I have loved you deeply,’ says the Lord. ‘Really? When was this?’ Israel says. And the Lord replies, ‘I showed my love to you by loving. . . Oh, Israel, lift your eyes to see what God is doing all around the world. Then you will say, “Truly, the Lord’s power goes far … far beyond our understanding.”’ To you, dear friends, all that matters really is love. God is LOVE! God loves you.God loves me and if we can’t love as much as God loves, God still loves us and lives in us.I always thank God when I am praying for you. ‘I myself have gained much joy and encouragement from your love.’ (Philemon 1:7)