—Victory in the Valley – Chapter 12—
Now read on . . .
“What a cheerful room this is,” I remarked contentedly as I lay back on my pile of pillows in my garden room, smiling my thanks to Sylvia for the steaming cup of tea that she placed carefully on the bedside table.
My youngest son, David, arrived home with a huge abscess in his gum. Marge, a member of our congregation, took him to the dentist, who wanted to hospitalize him.
He refused, telling them, “My Mom is coming out of hospital today. I need to be at home.”
The dentist gave him a large dose of Penicillin and told him to return some hours later to have the boil lanced and drained and a tooth extracted. Again Marge came to the rescue, acting taxi-driver, to allow Rob to stay with me.
Before returning to the dentist, David moved my computer through from the study. He set it up next to the bed on my right side and then installed one of his many “Quest” computer games. My son was determined to keep me active! To my surprise, I spent many hours enjoying that Quest. Years later, I opened a program that started with the same piece of music, and it felt as if my blood had turned to ice. Such was the lasting impression it made on me. As I look back on that day, I often think how handy Internet access would have been, but we only had dial-up and it was extremely expensive.
To my surprise, I spent many hours enjoying that Quest. Years later, I opened a program that started with the same piece of music, and it felt as if my blood had turned to ice. Such was the lasting impression it made on me. As I look back on that day, I often think how handy Internet access would have been, but we only had dial-up and it was extremely expensive.
“I need to put out all my cards.”
We tried to fit them onto the surfaces. There wasn’t room for them all. I piled them on my bedside table until I could decide what to do with them.
The next day I collected a tube of glue from the study and got awkwardly down on the floor. I crawled around on my knees and one useful hand. I stuck my cards haphazardly onto a large piece of brown paper. Rob hung the large mural onto the wall, close to the bed, where I could regularly read the words.
I soon began to recognize Rob’s wisdom in making a bed in the dining room. I had a constant flow of visitors. At least they didn’t have to trail through the entire house to our bedroom at the far end of the corridor. One thing bothered me, however. The room was crowded with the dining room furniture, the computer, bed and bedside table and all the flowers, so Rob put out only two chairs for visitors. Frequently a couple would arrive before the previous ones had left.
“Let’s put another couple of chairs here,” I suggested.
“No. They need to know when it’s time to move on and make space for the others,” my usually sociable husband stated firmly. “You are not to be overtired.”
Many members of our congregation came forward to support us. Each day for over a week, the ladies of the congregation provided us with our evening meal. One man drove half way across Johannesburg to get some tablets I needed that we couldn’t get locally. Two of our elders each bought me a “stress balls”; one a small orange ball, the other a white, oval-shaped rugby ball.
Rob’s secretary, Sonia, became our self-appointed gardener. Each day she would pop in to top up the water in the flower arrangements, remove the dead blooms, and change the arrangements as needed. She was one of those people who could work wonders with flowers, and so for many weeks the indoor garden continued to blossom.
When I was still in the hospital, Beulah, my new friend from the Cancer Association, gave me a warning. “You will soon face what is called the Roller Coaster of Cancer,” she said.
Sure enough, within a few days, I became aware of a pattern of emotions. Being a “people person,” I thrived on the many visitors and phone calls, and most of the time I came across as cheerful and optimistic. Folk went away marveling at my positive attitude and how well I looked. No matter how tired, I always thrilled to hear a knock on the door, and my energy level would peak once more.
But then came 6 pm.
Every day, between 6 and 7 pm, I hit the doldrums. Visitors were at home fixing or eating supper. Rob was sorting out our meal for the evening. David had retired to his room to work on an assignment. Tiredness made it impossIble for me to concentrate on a book or Quest. All I could do was think.
I faced an uncertain future, commencing with a course of Radiation Therapy. I had nursed dreadful radiotherapy burns during my training many years ago, and I shuddered at the thought of becoming a victim. After the radiotherapy would come chemotherapy, which is notorious for its horrific effects, not least of which would almost certainly mean losing my thick, curly, auburn hair.
“Give them one year of your life and you’ll be fine,” Beulah had said. One year—it seemed like an eternity. Besides which, I had already noticed my surgeon did not seem to be anything like as optimistic.
My emotions would slide unchecked into the pits of despair. Feeling alone, and seemingly powerless to overcome these negative feelings, I would become depressed. Lord help me to conquer these blue times, I prayed one evening.
“Knock, knock.” It was just before 6 pm the following day when Sonia breezed into the room. She carried a large, gaily-decorated cardboard box full of small parcels, all individually wrapped.
“These are from all of us at the church,” she announced cheerfully. “There will be more to come, but I thought perhaps you needed them now.”
Members of our congregation had contributed small gifts, prettily gift-wrapped. Each included a Scripture verse and a small message of love to me. The attractive label on the outside of the bright pink box read Take one daily at 6 pm.
“We collected these gifts to make a Love Box for you,” she explained. “Then you told me about the 6 pm blues, so I decided to change it into a Blues Box. Sorry about the color!” She grinned as she lowered it to the floor.
Every day for the next few weeks, I opened one present, read the enclosed Scripture and message, and felt loved. The Lord had indeed heard my prayer by sending a bright pink Blues Box. Several times Sonia arrived to add additional parcels as others brought their gifts to her.
So between the computer game and the love box, I had no excuse to feel unloved.
Although outwardly calm, I think there were times when I drove some of my closer friends, and certainly my family, quite crazy. I needed to talk about my experiences over and over. I lived for visitors. For company.