Late last week I sat down and wrote a letter in a Thanksgiving card to a woman I really don’t know very well. Her name is Thelma Smith and she is a Registered Nurse at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City.
A year and a half ago, my mom Karyn had to undergo triple bypass surgery. It was a scary time for us all as they loaded mom up in the ambulance for the transport from her hometown to the hospital. That 75 mile drive seemed to take forever with uncertainty waiting on the other end. It was time filled with prayer.
Four days after she arrived at OHH, she underwent the delicate surgery. Her skilled surgeon, a former University of Oklahoma football player by the way, did everything right to get mom’s heart back into working condition.
When he came out of surgery to give his report to the family, he saw me wearing my Oklahoma State T-shirt. He told me that “Pistols were Firing” on all cylinders and mom would soon be on the mend.
There were a few setbacks along the way, and mom’s hospital stay extended into a second week. She had many wonderful nurses along the way, but it was Thelma who really meant the most to us.
She listened to our concerns with her undivided attention. She explained technical medical jargon. She was comforting to mom whenever she had a worrisome question. Her compassion was second to none and her witty personality made her a joy to be around. She was quite the jokester.
Thelma never left from her shift without stopping to check on mom the next morning to see if she needed anything. As if that weren’t special enough, she came in one day with a new “designer” hospital gown for mom that was not even in circulation yet because she knew it would make mom feel special after a week of confinement to a hospital room.
It did! She said she wanted her “Louise” to model the gown before anyone else on the floor. She befriended my mom, and I never forgot that.
Before we left the hospital, Thelma and mom posed for a photo while wearing sunglasses, symbolic of the movie “Thelma and Louise”. I included that photo in the Thanksgiving card, along with a family photo of my mom, brother, sister and I last Christmas.
We were blessed to have another Christmas together because of the wonderful care she received at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.
And now that another holiday season is rolling around, I count among my many blessings Thelma Smith and the others who were charged with mom’s care. It is because of them when we sit down as a family for Thanksgiving dinner that our family matriarch is with us.
It’s a priceless gift for which I am truly grateful.