Divine Intervention

The two rooms are right next to each other and we enter the one on the left first, Shirley Potts leading the way. There’s something instantly likeable about her, maybe it’s her warm smile or the fact that she’s a self-described “hugger.” When she introduces me to her mom, Mary Mitchell, rather loudly (she’s hard of hearing), her mom smiles back, and so do I. Shirley shows off the clothes and jewelry box her mom had her bring from home, the rings glistening off the light when she opens the box. Her mom has always been stylish and being a hospice patient wasn’t about to stop that. Now her rings, which sparkle off her fingers, just go with a patient gown instead.

Mary’s jewelry isn’t the only thing familiar to her in the Angela Hospice Care Center though. Her son and one of Shirley’s brothers, Lawrence, is a patient in the room next door.

“To have them here is a sense of relief,” Shirley said. “I know that they’re taken care of if I can’t just run down here.”

It’s a relief for Lawrence too since he no longer needs to worry about his mom.

“It’s a great place to be,” he said in his gravelly voice after Shirley handed him the notebooks he had asked for. He loves to chart everything.

Shirley, who lives in Lansing, gets to the Care Center as often as she can to see how her mom and brother are doing. During the week she’ll also probably be making stops to see her step-dad, who she affectionately calls “Grandpa,” and is still living in his home; and one of her other brothers who has end stage liver disease and is living in New Baltimore, Michigan.

Shirley with her brother Lawrence in his room at the
Angela Hospice Care Center.
Needless to say her car has been getting a lot of miles lately and the road to Angela Hospice began with her brother Lawrence.

Shirley had made an appointment for her brother and dad at the pulmonologist, but the doctor she had originally scheduled their appointments with was out. So they ended up seeing a different doctor, who specialized in pulmonary hypertension.

“That’s why I know the Lord intervenes,” Shirley said before continuing the story.

The doctor looked at both of them, gave her dad what he needed, but told her that there was a lot to talk about when it came to Lawrence’s health. He continued to see the specialist with a continuous decline before being told that his best option would be an open chest surgery, which Lawrence didn’t want.

Then one night Lawrence, who is bed-ridden, called Shirley rather late and said he needed something. Shirley asked him if he needed help and he said yes. She had her son go over because she was at the hospital with her mom. Then they called 911.

“We got him to the hospital and he said, ‘I can’t go home, I won’t go home. What are we going to do?’” Shirley explained.

Heartland was mentioned since Lawrence had been there before for a blood clot, then she remembered she and Lawrence had talked about hospice. One of Lawrence’s doctors mentioned Angela Hospice.

“That’s how we ended up here,” she said.

Once Lawrence was settled in the Care Center Shirley brought her mom to visit him. Right before they came to see him Shirley found out that her mom was going to need 24/7 care at home, something that Shirley wasn’t sure how she would be able to provide.

Shirley with her mom, Mary, and the jewelry she
wanted brought from her home.
When Mary was visiting the Care Center she asked Shirley why she couldn’t stay there. Shirley told her they probably wouldn’t be able to afford it and she might not qualify for hospice care. Shirley had started to look for a nursing home for her mom when an Angela Hospice staff member recommended Shirley look into her parents’ insurances to see if it would cover hospice room and board. Thankfully it did.

“These four people -- mom, grandpa, Lawrence, and Darrell -- are the first people I loved,” Shirley said through tears. “And they get on my nerves. But I want them taken care of.

“I’m losing them all at once and that’s what’s really hard,” she continued.

The four of them luckily have a woman like Shirley, who has a smile that rarely leaves her face, and during the rare instance it does there’s only a moment before it comes back, just as bright as before. Shirley’s strength through all this would put a champion weightlifter to shame.

So where does Shirley get all her strength from? She answers plain and simple, without a moment’s hesitation: “God.”

She believes in people working as if they’re serving the Lord, something she sees happening at Angela Hospice, where everyone she’s met has been nothing short of wonderful.

“I mean right down to the people pushing the carts and cleaning,” she said. “Everybody who I have encountered has just been more than amazing and more than I expected, but what I like to see.

“I haven’t seen anybody who hasn’t been gracious and wanting to help when I ask for it,” she continued.

Just like Shirley, who jokes throughout the interview that her life is like a movie. If it was, it’s clear who the hero would be: her.

1 comment:

  1. Shirley is an inspiration. May her deep faith continue to sustain her. You're my role model.