White dove and cross.

Code: White Dove

Jeb’s hands, aged by time, clutched the cards before him. He peered at the blurring faces staring back. He had heard the call over the nursing home loudspeakers. Code: White Dove. The cards fluttered from his hands, landing quietly on the table.

He gazed at his partner, Betty, opposite him. It was time to go. They spoke no words, they knew it was time. He watched in silence as she quietly rose from the comfort of her chair, easing her weary bones against the table for support

Jeb slowly pulled himself up; a nearby aide rushed to his side, and steadied him before his walker. He brushed her away, determined to make the long walk down the corridor on his own.

The near silent hum of wheelchairs followed behind him, as he slowly made his way toward the front entrance. He could hear the click-click of other resident’s walkers, and doors opening as more residents stepped into the halls. Soon, the hall was lined on each side with nurses, aids, family members and residents.

He steadied himself a moment to catch his breath, and gazed out the corridor window. A lone white dove had made a perch in the nearby tree. Glittering diamond eyes watched him through the glass, filling him with peace. Sunlight played through its alabaster feathers, as a light wind ruffled the golden leaves. He smiled at the bird, caught his breath, and determinedly made his way to the line of residents as they formed on each side of the hallway.

He gazed down the corridor once more. The back doors were locked, as they should be. No more whisking out a resident who had passed in the night in secrecy. No more silence as the deceased was covertly taken on their final journey through a side door.

Now, they would leave the way they come to spend their final days, through the front entrance. This way, everyone would have their chance to say their goodbye’s. Warmth filled his heart, joy filled his very soul, as he watched the procession approach.

Mrs. Bailey, a resident, and a friend of many years, had passed quietly. She had been loved by the nurses, and the aides, and the fellow residents. Shrouded in maroon velvet, her body was slowly being wheeled toward the front door. A nurse followed directly behind, as Mrs. Bailey passed in front of her fellow residents one last time.

The nurse began to sing. Soon, all the nurses joined in, and the nurses aides, and the janitors, and the residents and even the families who had also lined the halls.
        Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
        That saved a wretch like me,
        I once was lost, but now I’m found
        Was blind, but now I see…
His heart filled with joy as he watch the stretcher slowly pass. Residents patted her leg, or stroked her hair as she was slowly wheeled into the glittering sunlight. Lips mouthed soundless prayers, as others sang proudly for her, and to the heavens above.
        Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear
        And Grace, my fears relieved
        How precious did that Grace appear
        The hour I first believed…
Soon, she was gone. His heart sang as he wished her well on her next journey. He eased himself back into his walker, and slowly began making his way down the long hall.

He had the urge to turn back once more, gazing at the car which gently carried her away. He watched as the dove flew from the tree and followed, as she was carried to her final destination. The sight brought to memory a bible verse he had loved: Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest…

“Go, my friend, on the wings of the dove.” He whispered. “He will take you home.”

This story is dedicated to the staff at Green Valley
Nursing and Rehab, North Richland Hills, Texas.

~ Shelley Madden ~
<shellmadde at aol.com>
Copyright © 2011

Shelley Madden is a short story author who resides in Wise County, Texas. She enjoys raising poultry and ponies on her small farm. Please email Shelley and let her know what you think of her story.

[ by: Shelley Madden, Copyright © 2011, ( shellmadde at aol.com ) -- submitted by: Shelley Madden ]

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