by Kathleen Neely
Last year, at the beginning of our beach vacation in Hilton Head, my husband became ill and I took him to the ER. In truth, he hadn’t been feeling well during the days before vacation, but we kept expecting it to get better.
At the Hilton Head ER, they performed many diagnostic tests before ordering an ambulance to transport him to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) hospital in Charleston where doctors performed surgery to repair a hiatal hernia that had bulged to dangerous proportions.
I initially took him to the ER around 6:00 Sunday evening. Following our time in that hospital, it was after midnight before his transport to Charleston. We arrived close to 3:00 am. By then, I had been awake 21 hours. There was no sleep to speak of that night as teams of people came in and out of the room to assess his condition. Surgery was scheduled for noon on Monday. I caught less than three hours sleep on a small bench in his room. The surgery lasted a few hours, then I stayed awake with him and our sons for a little while. By seven that evening, I looked like I had come off of a windy beach, been awake for about 45 hours, and had a middle of the night ride to keep up with an ambulance. I looked that way because that was exactly what happened.
Here’s the part I want to share.
A nurse told me I could shower on the third floor. I should stop at the concierge’s desk. When I arrived, no one was at the desk. I walked around aimlessly looking for someone, but the halls were empty. Just then, a petite women came through a door, pushing two trash cans that needed to be emptied. I must have looked like I was ready to cry because she stopped and came toward me.
“What do you need, honey?”
Fighting tears, I said, “I need a shower. They told me to see the concierge.”
She touched my shoulder and turned me around. “She’s gone for the day, but let’s get you some towels.”
I told her I thought God had sent me an angel.
She replied, “That’s right, honey. Just you, me, and God. We’re gonna take care of you.”
With her arm wrapped around my shoulder, we walked to a storage closet where she pulled out towels and a washcloth. “What else do you need?”
I didn’t even think of saying—soap, shampoo, a toothbrush. All I could think of was my hair that lay flat against my head. “I need a comb.”
Again she turned me around. “We’ll get you a comb, but here’s the thing. We still need to see a concierge. We’ll have to go to the fourth floor.”
She could have told me where to go and pointed me to the elevator. Instead, she stayed with me, her trash cans waiting back in another hallway. We rode the elevator up a floor and found the fourth floorconcierge who then opened a bag with small travel sizes of everything I needed. The concierge gave us a location for my shower and we returned to the third floor. My cleaning lady friend walked me to where the showers were and made sure I was okay before leaving.
It was the most glorious shower I’d had in ages. That night I slept like a rock.
I’m fine. My husband is fine. Life is back to normal. I share this story because God has a history of using seemingly insignificant people to impart His grace and provision. She wasn’t a doctor or nurse. She wasn’t a social worker or administrative assistant. She wasn’t even the concierge. She was just an ordinary cleaning lady who went the extra measure to serve. But on that evening, to me, she was so much more.
Meet Kathleen Neely
Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.