Thursday, March 10, 2011


I am often reminded of a prayer I came across when I most needed it: “Lord, help me to do what I can, where I am, with what I have.” Tucked in, too, are memories of a woman dear to my heart, which showed me that life’s changes could be weathered.
A number of years ago, fifteen to be exact, I was quite new in this city. My mother had recently died. Russ, the man at church who has a love for the elderly, seeing that love in me as well, asked that I spend some time visiting a particular shut-in. Not wanting to go by myself, I asked another new-to-the area friend from church to go with me. Little did we know that in trying to be givers, what we were about to be given!
Leona Howard was a lady of slight build and when Sallie and I entered her retirement center room, an instant camaraderie flowed. Showing great interest in our lives, she took both of us in as though she had known us for years. She was attached to an oxygen canula almost constantly, but that just helped bring attention to the sparkle of welcome in her eyes as she sat in her recliner.
Sallie and I frequently visited together but there came a day when I went in alone. As I approached Leona’s room, I saw another resident sitting back-to. Her general presentation was so reminiscent of my recently deceased mother that it brought tears to my eyes. I dismissed them prior to going into Leona’s room, but after we’d visited a bit, I started to tell her about it and the tears returned. Though she wasn’t that much older than I, she just reached out with a mother’s hug. As I write about this today, the tears wash my eyes in remembrance of that sweet gesture. She did what she could, with what she had, where she was.
Often when Sallie and I would go in, Leona had been busy using what she had in her hands…the hands of an amazing artist. Though they were proof of what she was no longer able to do, she enjoyed having her beautiful original works of art on the walls of her room. We took great pleasure in not only seeing, but also discussing the origins of them with her as well. Her daughter Betty kept her well supplied with blank greeting card-and-envelope-sets, as well as the colored pencils that Leona now enjoyed using in place of the earlier canvases, brushes, and paint supplies. She used those greeting cards to bring cheer and encouragement to shut-ins. She even shared some with Sallie and me just because she loved us. She had well learned to do what she could, where she was, with what she had.
Because we knew she enjoyed beauty, there came a day when thanks to the thoughtfulness of the prior owner of our house, I was able to gather a bouquet of colorful flowers to take to Leona. As she thanked me, her eyes danced with pleasure but I later learned there was more behind the words than the twinkle in her eyes. The next time I went in, Leona presented me with a signed, hand-drawn greeting card, and said, “I called this, “Sue’s Bouquet.” She had used the flowers and vase for a model, and her drawing was lovelier than anything I had designed and presented to her. As you can see from the photo, it has lasted longer, too! It has been on the bulletin board beside my desk since I created that bulletin board. Other things have come and gone, but that card holds a primary, premier position, not unlike the place Leona holds in my heart.
May we, like she, learn well the lesson of doing what we can, where we are, with what we have.

© Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 3-10-2011

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this story and the beautiful greeting card. I'm inspired to do what I can, where I am, with what I have.