My life is not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination and I am not as smart as some people think I am and other people say that I think I am. I have just experienced a lot and seen even more. What I have not been through myself, watched people go through, people sit here on my front porch and tell me they been through it, I have read about. Information is everywhere, that includes what you need to know about life. Of course, my first source of information is Scripture.
I have reached a level in my life, my journey is what I call it, in which I trust God more than I trust myself and so I have peace about most things. My faith gives me two things: wisdom and common sense; that’s important.
On this day, I visited a few people one I knew personally the other the Pastor asked if I could stop by the house.
Let’s call person number one “Joe.” I am changing his name to protect his innocent children. Nobody wants a foolish daddy! Now Joe had been having financial problems for quite a while, I know this because his wife always complains to me about it. Joe owns a restaurant and he is about to loose it and his wife. So, I went to his restaurant to see if things were as bad as “Irene” said.
The place was empty and it was lunch time.
“Hey” I said as I walked in to no one in particular. “Is Joe around.”
“Hi Miss Nettie! Mr. Joe is in his office I will go get him.” Often people know me and I don’t remember who they are. I am sure this young lady had been to my house before, I honestly just can’t remember her name. She left the front to get Joe.
“Hi Miss Nettie, what can I get you? Andrea didn’t take your order?”
“I didn’t order anything Joe but” turning to Andrea, one of my daughter’s child hood friends, I ordered. “A salad and a strawberry lemonade if you have it.”
“If we don’t I will make you one Miss Nettie” she smiled and left the room again.
Joe sat down next to me with an obviously fake smile. The stress on his brow was very defined and his eyes looked as if they had not been closed in weeks.
“It is obvious Joe that business is terrible.” I started, not giving him a chance to make small talk.
“I don’t want to talk about this right now. How are you and Mr. Chip doing?
“You need to talk about it Joe. If this is what the restaurant looks like at the peak of lunch hour you cannot be making much money and not making money means you are loosing money and if you are loosing money …”
“I know all that Ms. Nettie! Quite frankly it is none of your business.”
“Joe, you are absolutely right. I came because it is clear to the people around you that things are not good with you and your wife. When rumors reach me I either ignore them or go to the sources and see what is going on. Well here I am.
“Now, I can’t help you but I know people who can.”
Again he interrupted me. “Miss Nettie I am trying not to be disrespectful but you are putting your nose in my business. As a man I will fix this, it is…”
“Even men need help Joe, the angels ministered to Jesus.” This time I interrupted.
“This is not your problem!”
“Are the rumors about your marriage true?” He started to interrupt again but I would not let him. “Don’t say anything, I happen to know that they are. Everyone knows your wife left you before. And now you do not have time to be with your family because you are trying to make a go of a business you know very little about.
“I know this is not my business but I hate to see people struggle when they don’t have to. I know people who can help you by either purchasing this business or helping you manage it.”
“I have people helping me.”
“It’s lunch hour Joe and the place is empty. Apparently, you do not do any better during dinner time. You don’t serve alcohol, which is how most restaurants make money so it does not take a genius to know you are loosing money fast.”
Andrea brought my drink and salad. “Can you make that to go please?”
“Look, I have to much on my mind right now. It is just me, the person cooking and Andrea working every day. I just don’t have time to deal with that right now. When things pick up, maybe. I appreciate your concern but like I told Irene things are going to get better.”
As Andrea brought my food to go with the bill I stood up handing her forty dollars- way more than what the bill was and began walking towards the door. There was nothing left to say so I said nothing. You cannot help a person who does not want to be helped.
Irene, Joe’s wife, had called him that morning and told him she was leaving. I was in her home when she made that call and pleaded with her to wait, for the children’s sake, for me to try and talk to her husband. She agreed to stay if I could convince her husband to get someone who knew about running a business to help him she would stay, despite her knowledge he would not let her help. By the time Joe got home his wife and children would be gone in a home set up by another man.
As I I drove to my next destination I enjoyed the fresh lemonade with strawberries. Maybell, was a referral from a hospital to the Pastor who served as a voluntary chaplain for hospice patients. Maybell had been diagnosed with final stage breast cancer and decided to go home rather than a treatment facility. Her family thought it would be better for her to go into a hospital because her condition was progressively getting worst and her pain was difficult to manage.
The nurse opened the door and instantly I was hit with an awful smell. After brief introductions I was taken to the dining room which was now where Maybell’s hospital bed and other necessities were. She was sitting up and smiled briefly as I introduced myself.
“She just got something for pain,” the nurse was saying “she may go to sleep.” I smiled as she walked away.
“Good afternoon Maybell, my name is Nettie. Pastor asked me to come by and visit with you today. He has not told me a lot about you, just that you are in hospice care.”
“Yea, I got cancer.” She said, her voice weak but audible.
“You have end stage cancer.”
“God is going to heal me.”
“Why do you think God is going to heal you?”
“Because I asked Him.”
“When did you ask him?”
“When did you ask God to heal you?”
“When the doctor told me I had cancer. What kind of question is that?!!”
“Well Maybell, I believe God heals, Jesus endured 39 stripes so that we are healed not going to be. I just want to know when did you started praying?”
Hearing the excitement in her patient’s voice the nurse had entered the room to see what was going on but remained silent.
“He told me about two years ago.”
“Oh, so after you had the mastectomy, the chemotherapy and radiation treatments you started praying? Or were you praying while you were receiving treatment?”
“No, I wasn’t going to let them cut my breast off. The Bible says if I ask anything I could have it and I want my breast!” Maybell, clearly angry, started coughing.
“I didn’t come to make you angry however I like to know what to pray when I pray for people. It’s good that you believe God will heal you. Is there anything you need from the store? Is there any food that they don’t fix for you that you would like to have?”
The thought of an expensive meal seemed to perk her up. “I haven’t had a decent steak in a long time. I was just thinking I would like to have some steak and some shrimp! But it is too expensive. Do you think you could get that for me?”
“Of course I can! Do you want it for your dinner today or tomorrow?”
“Can you bring it buy for my lunch tomorrow? About this time.”
“I will not be bringing it but I am going to have Pastor bring it when he comes and visits. He is near Samuels’ and can pick it up on his way.”
“Samuels’ is expensive. I have never been there before but I heard of it. Can Pastor afford that?”
“He is not going to pay for it I am. I have stayed long enough let me pray for you and you can get some rest.” I did a quick prayer that the Lord would give her peace and wisdom and left.
As I drove home I talked to the Lord about Joe and Maybell. Sometimes God sends life-rafts to people and they don’t see it because they are stuck in their own understanding.
Irene had left Joe before but Pastor had encouraged her to come back because of the children. Unfortunately, Joe thought the best way to keep his wife was to make more money and it seemed smart to open a restaurant, though he was pretty good at managing he was lousy at marketing. He struggled. Joe refused to ask his wife, who worked from home as a Social Media Manager, to help him promote his business. One of her clients owned a restaurant in a neighboring community had hired his wife and over the years his business grew partly because of her efforts as did their relationship. When she decided to move her client found her and the children a place to stay and covered the expenses associated with it. Joe was loosing everything because Joe thought being a man meant you could not hear what a woman had to say.
I had made arrangements for Maybell to have her steak dinner with Apple Pie from a nearby bakery and ice cream from a local farm that made natural ice cream. It was delivered by the Pastor and he and her five children, her grandchildren, and a few other family members had a great visit as I was told. She couldn’t really eat any of the food but the nurse, put the food on her tongue so that she could at least taste it and then removed it so she would not choke; even the ice cream could not be swallowed. According to Pastor that was the last time she was awake, an hour after the meal was presented to her she went to sleep, twenty four hours later she died.
Maybell did not have to die. She chose to hold on to her breast with the cancerous cells in them than have to wear a prosthetic one. She refused treatment because of the side-effects: nausea, vomiting, hair loss and so forth. She chose to believe Scripture. Unfortunately Maybell believed the doctors more than she believed God’s word and she behaved accordingly. Her faith, like many of us, was tainted by fear and she really did not believe her own words- “God is going to heal me.”
When I came home after those two visits Chip, my husband, was sitting in my chair on the front porch. He knew what I had planned on doing and had predicted the outcome that I received; he too had days like this.
Chip and I have seen a lot of our own ups and downs, success and failure, we try to warn people, help people and pray for people whenever we can. More people do not listen than do listen I have learned to help those I can whenever I can even if it means just buying an expensive meal that I know they can’t eat.
A FRONT PORCH STORY- according to the world of NETTIE. All rights reserved; do not use without the permission of Marsha L F Randolph