Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Our Friend Florence

Florence is an 89-year-old friend from our synagogue. We just met her last year and regret that we couldn’t have known her for a long time, because she is truly a remarkable person. She is only about 4'10" tall, but she is funny and feisty and leaves a lasting impression. I feel a special connection to her because she is just about the age my mother would have been if she were alive.

She recently came to our poetry evening, bringing with her some very moving poetry written by a friend of hers in England as she battled and ultimately succumbed to breast cancer. After that evening, I commented to Florence that we would have to make this an annual event. She suggested that it be more than once a year, hinting at the fact that she was not sure just how long she might be around to enjoy it. I the proposed that we do it outdoors in the summer at a scenic place like Great Falls. She said, “Oh, yes. Then we could dance by the light of the moon.” That pretty much describes Florence.

We had invited Florence to our Passover seder. She accepted and insisted that she bring a homemade cake, which is no small feat because at Passover you can’t cook with flour.

We learned just yesterday that Florence had suffered a stroke and that her cognitive abilities were impaired. What a blow! We feared for the worst, but would not really know how badly she was affected until David visited her in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, I contacted a friend who is a wonderful healer and asked her to think about and pray for Florence. She asked for a full description of Florence, since they had never met.

When David arrived at her room at Arlington Hospital, he found her standing up out in the hallway talking to her son (who is probably our age.) She recognized him and called him by some variation of our name.

The story of her recent stroke unfolded. On Sunday as she was cooking a big dinner, she felt her arm go numb and her vision blur. She was taken to the hospital with paralysis on her entire right side and a loss of vision. Just yesterday, she made a remarkable recovery, with almost all of the paralysis disappearing and much of the vision returning. She still cannot read or see anything off to her right side. But it is obvious that she will recover.

We are greatly relieved and are once again looking forward to having her join us for Passover. I am now more than ever determined to give her the opportunity to read poetry outside on a beautiful summer afternoon and perhaps to dance by the light of the moon.

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