Neglect not the gift that is in thee.—1 TIMOTHY 4:14 (KJV)
When I made the rounds that winter evening as a nurse at the VA hospital, Donna, the veteran patient in Room 316,
was in a deep funk. She had once been a textile artist, but now her failing eyesight kept her from her art.
An idea burned inside me. I had taken on a community project of designing a World War II Christmas scene for the annual Festival of Trees. I really needed an artist’s expertise.
“I wondered if I might pick your brain about something?” I asked her. I told her about my project, and for the first time in weeks, Donna became animated. She reached for her abandoned paints and sketch pad. “How about searching out authentic period memorabilia to tell your story?” she asked excitedly.
Donna painted a mother in a rocking chair writing a letter to her son overseas. Next she added a boy dressed in a miniature service uniform, dreaming by a crackling fireplace of the day he’d serve his country like his father.
“You’re going to need mannequins, an old mantel and other little touches too. Go to flea markets, and if you can’t find everything there, try dumpster diving or shopping the curb,” Donna told me. “What you need is always all around you.”
My Christmas scene was awarded “Best of Show” at the event. But the greatest reward was that Donna had returned to her livelier self. I’d unexpectedly tapped into something forgotten…the person she used to be.