DON’T LET IT END THIS WAY

Graphic divider for Don't Let it End This Way (Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

I like to share a poignant story that I read years ago which I clipped and saved in my scrapbook to serve as a reminder that when things go wrong in the family (as they sometimes do), making things right through forgiveness, reconciliation, and lots of love is of utmost priority and importance. I know it’s easy to assume that life would go on and that we would have another chance to make things right. But tomorrow might come without the loved ones whom we have wronged, and they would not hear us say: Please forgive me. I love you; I’m so sorry I hurt you. Ephesians 4:26 admonishes us to Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Here’s the story:

Graphic divider for Don't Let it End This Way (Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

The hospital was unusually quiet that bleak January evening, quiet and still like the air before a storm. I stood in the nurses’ station on the seventh floor and glanced at the clock. It was 9 o’clock. I threw a stethoscope around my neck and headed for room 712, last room on the hall. Room 712 had a new patient. Mr. Williams. A man all alone. A man strangely silent about his family.

As I entered the room, Mr. Williams looked up eagerly, but dropped his eyes when he saw it was only me, his nurse. I pressed the stethoscope over his chest and listened. Strong, slow, even beating. Just what I wanted to hear. There seemed little indication he had suffered a slight heart attack a few hours earlier. He looked up from his starched white bed. “Nurse, would you…” He hesitated, tears filled his eyes. Once before he had started to ask me a question, but had changed his mind. I touched his hand. He brushed away a tear. “Would you call my daughter? Tell her I’ve had a heart attack. A slight one. You see, I live alone and she is the only family I have.” His respiration suddenly speeded up. I turned on his nasal oxygen up to eight liters a minute.

“Of course I’ll call her,” I said, studying his face. He gripped the sheets and pulled himself forward, his face tense with urgency. “Will you call her right away — as soon as you can?” He was breathing fast — too fast. “I’ll call her the very first thing,” I said, patting his shoulder. I flipped off the light. He closed his eyes, such young blue eyes in his 50-year-old face. Room 712 was dark except for a faint night light under the sink. Oxygen gurgled in the green tubes above his bed. Reluctant to leave, I moved through the shadowy silence to the window. The panes were cold. Below a foggy mist curled through the hospital parking lot. “Nurse,” he called, “could you get me a pencil and paper?” I dug a scrap of yellow paper and a pen from my pocket and set it on the bedside table.

Graphic divider for Don't Let it End This Way (Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

I walked back to the nurses’ station and sat in a squeaky swivel chair by the phone. Mr. Williams’ daughter was listed on his chart as the next of kin. I got her number from information and dialed. Her soft voice answered. “Janie, this is Sue Kidd, a registered nurse at the hospital. I’m calling about your father. He was admitted tonight with a slight heart attack and…”

“No!” she screamed into the phone, startling me. “He’s not dying is he?”

“His condition is stable at the moment,” I said, trying hard to sound convincing. Silence. I bit my lip.

“You must not let him die!” she said. Her voice was so utterly compelling that my hand trembled on the phone.

“He’s getting the very best care.”

“But you don’t understand,” she pleaded. “My daddy and I haven’t spoken in almost a year. We had a terrible argument on my 21st birthday, over my boyfriend. I ran out of the house. I haven’t been back. All these months I’ve wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was, ‘I hate you.'” Her voice cracked and I heard her heave great agonizing sobs.

I sat, listening, tears burning my eyes. A father and a daughter, so lost to each other. Then I was thinking of my own father, many miles away. It has been so long since I had said, “I love you.” As Janie struggled to control her tears, I breathed a prayer. “Please God, let this daughter find forgiveness.”

“I’m coming. Now! I’ll be there in 30 minutes,” she said. Click.

Graphic divider for Don't Let it End This Way (Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

She had hung up. I tried to busy myself with a stack of charts on the desk. I couldn’t concentrate. Room 712; I knew I had to get back to 712. I hurried down the hall nearly in a run. I opened the door. Mr Williams lay unmoving. I reached for his pulse. There was none. “Code 99, Room 712. Code 99. Stat.” The alert was shooting through the hospital within seconds after I called the switchboard through the intercom by the bed. Mr. Williams had had a cardiac arrest. With lightning speed I leveled the bed and bent over his mouth, breathing air into his lungs. I positioned my hands over his chest and compressed. One, two, three. I tried to count. At fifteen I moved back to his mouth and breathed as deeply as I could. Where was help? Again I compressed and breathed. Compressed and breathed. He could not die! “O God,” I prayed. “His daughter is coming. Don’t let it end this way.”

The door burst open. Doctors and nurses poured into the room pushing emergency equipment. A doctor took over the manual compression of the heart. A tube was inserted through his mouth as an airway. Nurses plunged syringes of medicine into the intravenous tubing. I connected the heart monitor. Nothing. Not a beat. My own heart pounded. “God, don’t let it end like this. Not in bitterness and hatred. His daughter is coming. Let her find peace.”

“Stand back,” cried a doctor. I handed him the paddles for the electrical shock to the heart. He placed them on Mr. Williams’ chest. Over and over we tried. But nothing. No response. Mr. Williams was dead. A nurse unplugged the oxygen. The gurgling stopped. One by one they left, grim and silent. How could this happen? How? I stood by his bed, stunned. A cold wind rattled the window, pelting the panes with snow. Outside — everywhere — it seemed a bed of blackness, cold and dark. How could I face his daughter?

Graphic divider for Don't Let it End This Way (Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

When I left the room, I saw her against the wall by the water fountain. A doctor who had been inside 712 only moments before stood at her side, talking to her, gripping her elbow. Then he moved on, leaving her slumped against the wall. Such pathetic hurt reflected from her face. Such wounded eyes. She knew. The doctor had told her that her father was gone. I took her hand and led her into the nurses’ lounge. We sat on little green stools, neither saying a word. She stared straight ahead at a pharmaceutical calendar, glass faced, almost breakable-looking.

“Janie, I’m so, so sorry,” I said. It was pitifully inadequate.

“I never hated him, you know. I loved him,” she said.

God please help her, I thought. Suddenly she whirled toward me. “I want to see him.”

My first thought was, Why put yourself through more pain? Seeing him will only make it worse. But I got up and wrapped my arm around her. We walked slowly down the corridor to 712. Outside the door I squeezed her hand, wishing she would change her mind about going inside. She pushed open the door. We moved to the bed, huddled together, taking small steps in unison. Janie leaned over the bed and buried her face in the sheets. I tried not to look at her at this sad, sad goodbye. I backed against the bedside table. My hand fell upon a scrap of yellow paper. I picked it up. It read:

“My dear Janie,
I forgive you.
I pray you will also forgive me.
I know that you love me.
I love you too.

–Daddy”

Graphic divider for Don't Let it End This Way (Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

The note was shaking in my hands as I thrust it toward Janie. She read it once. Then twice. Her tormented face grew radiant. Peace began to glisten in her eyes. She hugged the scrap of paper to her breast.

“Thank You, God,” I whispered, looking up at the window. A few crystal stars blinked through the blackness. A snowflake hit the window and melted away, gone forever… I crept from the room and hurried to the phone. I would call my father. I would say, “I love you.”

–Sue Kidd

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About Dick and Danna

OUR BUCKET LIST: 1950 First kid in the area with a portable radio on my bike when I was in grade school........... 1951 Built a 5 watt radio transmitter when I was in high school and went on the radio from home. Not the most legal thing to do. Built a PA system from scratch also........... 1951-1954 Learned to play Steel Guitar. Played many shows of country music on 6 different radio stations with different groups in Western Pennsylvania........... 1954 Married Danna Lewis at when she was 15 years old........... 1960 Got into Citizen Band Radio. Danna and I were two of the original founders of CB Rangers CB club in Butler. We published a call book of all of the CBers in the Tri-State area............ 1969 Danna and I were two of the original founders of the Tri-State Country Music Association. I wrote a column for their newspaper every month........... 1960 We went to Nashville. Met Ralph Emery of WSM radio and Archie Campbell, a Hee Haw TV Entertainer. Had coffee with them at Linbaugh’s Restaurant in Nashville. Archie bought the coffee........... 1965 We developed a successful network marketing business. In later years developed a few others. Greatest training on attitudes and success........... 1968 Had a Built an outdoor stage. Had a country music jam session on our lawn at home with around 500 musicians and their family from 5 different states........... 1969 Played music on the staff band of the WWVA Jamboree and backed up all of the entertainers in front of thousands of people for 4 months. WWVA was second largest country music show at that time next to WSM Grand Old Opry........... 1984 Danna started her own typesetting business in her home. Danna Vernon Graphics had customers in 3 counties. Very successful. She taught herself how to run the typesetter machine. It was a photo typesetter. She also did layout work for printers........... 1988 I taught the secretaries at Butler hospital how to use word processing and computers, but I never had any schooling or education on it. I also did some computer programming. Before this I ran the printing operation at the hospital........... 1989 I quit a good computer job and Danna and I bought a printing franchise, Minuteman Press in Butler PA. Operated it for 5 years............ 1994 We bought a motor home. went to Florida. Spent 9 years going to Florida for 6 months every year and back to Pennsylvania for 6 months............ 1995 We played music with “Spur of the Moment” band in Florida........... 2001 Never knew my dad. Met him in 2001 and Danna and I spent a wonderful 5 years together before he passed away. Went on a wonderful 2 weeks tour of Europe (5 countries) with him. He lived in Bradenton Florida........... 2002 Danna started singing and ended up running the Suncoast Jamboree in Florida, She had her own band and scheduled everything. She sang and emcee’d the show. Played many of the RV parks in the area........... 2004 Started a recording studio in Pa and FL. Danna recorded numerous CD’s........... 2007 Since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to wear the spots off a deck of cards. I finally accomplished it this year. Threw the deck away........... 2010 We started and played in various Gospel Music Groups. Country Transition, Good News Country Gospel. Played churches all over Western Pennsylvania........... 2010 We played music on television shows on WHCU-TV Kittanning........... 2010-2014 Danna and I did a 30 minute interview talk show, Danna’s Radio Diner, on WTYM & WAVL radio. Over 30,000 hits from over 100 countries on our website as of June 2017. Still get many hits every day........... 2010 Danna and I were on TV participating in Family Life TV WHKU helping their Christmas Auction on television........... 2011 Danna and I both read our first commercial to be broadcast on WTYM radio. Also I wrote a radio promo and a short radio script........... 2012 Operated a TV camera on a live TV show on WKHU-TV........... 2013 Produced an hour TV show – Armstrong Trails on WKHU-TV Kittanning, PA. Produced a monthly live country music dinner show with various bands at WTYM radio........... 2014 We went on a country music cruise and interviewed 12 top county music TV stars for our radio show........... 2014 Rode for an hour in the cab beside the engineer of a locomotive on Kiski Jct. railroad. Broadcast it on one of our radio shows........... 2014 Played Steel for Nashvile recording star Teea Goans when they came to Kittanning on WKHU-TH and WTYM Radio. Also in 2013 backed up Joann Cash (Johnny Cash sister)........... 2015 Started Danna’s Internet Café, an internet radio show. Also shows were run on WXED-FM 107.3 and WFSN-FM 96.7. for a year and a half........... 2016 I bought a Uke Bass and learned to play it. Played a jam session a week later. Sounds like a big upright bass.
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