Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Angel Wings, Old Folks & Corny Jokes

During my 18 months away from work, I spent many Friday's at church helping fold bulletins with the old folks. Known as the “Faith Folders” we would talk while folding and stuffing hundreds of bulletins for Sunday services. I grew to dearly love these old folks. One specifically was Carl, an 80-year old man, with hair as white as snow. He was deaf as a door knob and quite the jokester. Week after week he told the same corny jokes over and over again.

Shortly after tying the knot, a young married couple started arguing over who should make the coffee. Being a good Christian woman, the wife went to the scriptures for her answer. She said that the Bible specifically stated that men should be the ones to make the coffee.

Puzzled, the husband asked her where in the Bible it said that. Very confidently, the wife opened up her Bible and said: “It’s right here—HEBREWS.”

What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth? Answer: He was Ruthless.

After having children, Adam and Eve started getting a lot of questions from their kids about why they no longer lived in Eden. Adam has a simple answer for this: “Your mother ate us out of house and home.”

Carl and his lovely wife Margaret had been married 60+ years. True love, as it seems, rolls its eyes and puts up with those same corny jokes year after year.

During my time with them, “Marge” became critically ill and had major surgery at UPenn, 90 miles from home. For several months she was in ICU and on a ventilator. Marge’s prognosis was not good, but Carl vigilantly stayed by her bedside. The hospital had become his home away from home. He slept on uncomfortable, institutional chairs in public waiting rooms with complete strangers, and conducted his morning hygiene in the public restroom. Overpriced cookies and crackers from vending machines were his daily diet. Through it all, he persevered in hope, and kept his keen sense of humor.

To encourage him and help him pass the time, 82-year old Spunky Sarah (a fellow Faith Folder) and I put on our angel wings one cold and blustery January day and took the Amtrak to Philly to spend time with Carl as he sat by his beloved’s bedside. Concerned about us finding him at this behemoth hospital, and eager for a friendly visit, he left his wife’s bedside, hopped on a mass transit bus, rode across the City of Brotherly Love and met us at the train station.

Sarah and I treated him to a hot lunch in the cafeteria and listened to his stories: “I bath in the public restroom,” he chuckled. “One day I was sitting by Margaret’s side, when a stranger walked in. ‘Sir,’ he asked, ‘are you missing anything?’ I thought, and answered ‘I don’t think so.’ The man held out his hand and there were my teeth! I didn’t even realize they weren’t in my mouth,” he quipped. We erupted in hearty laughter.

Then, needing to make sure we got back to 30th Street Station on time, Carl accompanied us to the bus stop wearing only a light fleece jacket on a very cold winter day. Since the dear old man was freezing on behalf of us, I took off my bright pink ear muff and wrapped it around his snow white hair and cold bare ears. I added to his attire my colorful Cashmere scarf tucking it neatly around his neck, and then finished by enveloping his frozen fingers in my toasty red gloves.  The three of us waited for what seemed like an hour in wind whipped weather for the bus. Carl was a silly sight to behold! But, he managed to deliver Sarah and me to the train station; and then, proceeded to make the trek back to the hospital to sit by Marge’s bedside.

A bit later Marge was transferred to a rehab hospital 30 miles from home. Every week I would put on my angel wings and drive Carl to the hospital to visit his beloved bride. Spunky old Sarah would go with me.

I’d drive his little blue Honda Civic and he’d tease me about my lead foot and inept parking abilities.
By Marge’s hospital bed, Sarah and I had a beautiful window view to look in on their precious souls. Tears filled my eyes as I watched Carl tenderly comb her hair, gently kiss her lips, and repeatedly tell her he loved her. Sadly, Marge never recovered and eventually died. I was incredibly blessed to have walked through the valley of death with these darling old folks.

Through their hardship I learned valuable lessons about love, laughter and endurance.

Recently, my friend Carl had a stroke. Since I'm working again, I no longer fold bulletins on Fridays with the old folks, and I don’t have time for regular hospital visits. But, on Good Friday, the day Jesus died to give us life, spunky old Sarah and I put on our angel wings and went to visit Carl the corny jokester at the rehab center. His face lit up like a light bulb when he saw us. He didn't remember any of his corny jokes and was a bit disturbed that one of his hearing aids was missing. To keep him calm, I looked up corny Easter jokes on my phone. Loudly, because Carl was deaf as a doorknob, I humored him with one corny joke after another.

How does the Easter Bunny travel? By hare-plane!

What do you call a rabbit that tells good jokes? A funny bunny!

Still, hard of hearing and now confined to a hospital chair, Carl laughed heartily which made me and everyone else around laugh out loud too!

I have learned that angel wings, old folks, and corny jokes make Good Friday good in deed.

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