Her mind cannot move her left hand.
She can barely move her fingers. She’s suffered a stroke.
The occupational therapist is there, asking her to lift her left arm. “It feels like fifty pounds!” Mary says.
Then, “Move your wrist, your fingers.”
The ability to move decreases from her shoulder down to her fingertips.
But there is movement. I watch her pretty, weathered, long fingers move ever so slightly.
“They don’t work.” Mary said to the sweet girl.
“Oh yes they do, and you need to keep working them!” I could see both the temptation to let the hand have it’s way, whithering, and the insistant coaching of the therapist who was there to mentor the hand to life.
She taught my 78 year old mentor to use her right hand to help her left hand move. “She will come back!”
As I observed, I found myself saying, “We need to give her a name, talk to the hand!”
It had been five days since Mary’s stroke and this was my first visit. I was taking up where family left off as they flew home to Washington, Ohio and Oklahoma.
The next day, after spending considerable time in prayer for her and the other weighty things that I cannot carry, I was sweating in my basement along with my never-aging “The Firm” instructor. (This is where I find myself thinking further on all the things . . .)
And the thought came to me, “Her hand is just like ME when Mary invited me into her home once a week when I was fighting anxiety and depression. I’ve often described that season of my life, as if I were a “limp noodle” and I saw that is how Mary was feeling about her hand!”
So I texted her later, “Your hand is like I was when you mentored me. We should call her ‘Kathleen’.”
“Kathleen it is” was her response.
[That is Mary on the left]
Years ago, maybe nearly twenty, when Mary and I and a couple of other friends were at a retreat, we began using our full names. She was “Mary Ellen” and I was “Kathleen” and so we have continued to use those names as endearing reminders of our fun together.
The following week, I visited Mary again. “Kathleen” had made much progress, and was able to move significantly more freely than the week before.
And yesterday, during my third visit, I saw Mary using “Kathleen” to hold the hospital juice-cup in order to peel off the foil covering without spilling.
“I’m doing much better than they expected! I was able to walk without the walker, and carry a tray with a glass of water without spilling!”
Mary Ellen’s mind CAN move her right hand, and her right hand is mentoring ‘Kathleen’ back to health. Just like she did for me over fifteen years ago.
How thankful I am for people who see potential and who are willing to invest their prayer, time and energy to coach the wimpy things back to life and strength.
Have you been mentored? Are you mentoring someone?