Sister Madeline

As a  physical therapist, I have had the honor and privilege to meet so many folks in my life. The best thing about doing what I do is the chance to meet folks, listen to them, hear their story and have the chance to help them regain some ability that they have lost due to illness or injury, but they help me, too. They teach me. Everyday I learn from what someone has said--it might be a life lesson or a history lesson, or geography, but everyday, I learn.
I have worked with the elderly since I was twelve years old, working as a Red Cross Volunteen in Little Rock, AR. My love for them has grown into what it is today.

Sister Madeline is a lady I met many years ago. She was a retired nun, living in a retirement home. She was not what you, or I, usually think about when we think about a nun. For me, when I think about a nun, I usually think back to the Sound of Music, or if any of you used to visit St. Vincent Infirmary in the 1960's in Little Rock, AR,  you might have met the head sister,  Sister Mary Christine, I think,  in a habit, tall, thin, she must have head eyes in the back of her head, as she always knew what EVERYONE was doing at any given time. Or perhaps you have a more modernistic view of a nun, like my very good friend, Sister Mary Susann, who does not wear a habit and works a job, lives in a house, just like the rest of us. But, Sister Madeline, really wasn't like either mold.

I remember her in her night cap, and gown, or at least that is what she was supposed to have on, because she was from the time where nuns wore their habits.When I would enter her room, though, invariabley, the night cap would be in her hand and she would toss it across the room saying she was tired of wearing that old hat. She would always bring a smile to my face.

She had spunk, she had rebellion, and probably a little dementia thrown in, but was a delight in my day to be able to go and visit with her. How long had it been since someone had asked her what she liked, or what she thought of this or that. So many times with nuns, priests, preachers, etc, people forget they are people, too. They spend so much of their life comforting, counselling, that often times folks forget that they are people and there are times, they need a hug or a word of encouragement or a chance to really say what they think without worry of what somewhat might think. Maybe it was her age, or maybe she had been like this for years, but, for whatever reason, I am glad that I had a chance, many years ago, to meet Sister Madeline and get to know her as  Madeline ,a little Lady who had an opinion on most topics and when she took her night cap off, felt free to share. May I only hope for the same spirit when I get to her age.