Jack entered our lives suddenly as if out of nowhere. At the time our daughter-in-law Sharra had been in labor for several hours. It was getting late and she was tired, as we all were, and perhaps a little anxious and discouraged that the baby had not yet come. Then Jack came in the room and everything changed. If we had met him under any other circumstance I would have suspected that he was retired and living in some small East Texas village spending most of his time bass fishing on a nearby lake. Instead he was dressed in scrubs scurrying around our daughter-in-law’s hospital room preparing her to give birth. Jack was probably sixty-something years old and a bit over-weight, but confident about his tasks as if he had done it a thousand times. Something about his presence made our weariness and anxiety disappear, his gentleness and compassion expressed through his country accent and folksy humor. Jack was one of those people whose personality sort of permeated the room and made us all feel as if everything would be all right.Jack’s profession was as a registered nurse anesthetist, a CRNA whose job was to administer the anesthesia, and it was obvious the doctors had great confidence in his abilities. But more than his abilities he showed great care and concern for his patient, and when Sharra was finally wheeled away to the delivery room Jack remained right by her side chatting words of encouragement. It would be only a few minutes later that our beautiful baby granddaughter, Zoey, would enter the world. But there was concern. Her breathing was weak, her lungs not working as well as they should. You can imagine the panic that overcame the infant’s parents, Sharra and Cecil, as the medical team whisked their new-born, only minutes old, away to ICU. Except there was Jack – who sat at Sharra’s side holding her hand, stroking her long red hair, whispering to her, assuring her that her baby was fine, that everything would be okay, as if he had seen this sort of thing a thousand times . . . and he knew.
He was right, of course. Within a few short hours sweet little Zoey was out of ICU healthy and normal as can be, lungs at full capacity. That was eight months ago. What a blessing! Yet, as suddenly as he had entered our lives that evening Jack vanished into the night. We never saw him again. Perhaps his shift was over and he went home or moved on to another patient in need of his medical skills, to be comforted by his gentleness and compassion, his country accent and folksy humor. Or maybe he headed out to some lake in East Texas to do a little bass fishing. He seemed like that type. But for our family that evening Jack was an angel. They do exist you know.
January 19, 2009