The news of the promotion of a friend to heaven can bring both joy and sadness. Such was the case when I learned of the passing of Ella Smith.
Ella and I were Nurse Managers at the VA Medical Center together. We became friends as well as coworkers.
After retirement, we kept in touch until the last few years. Now, as I am sure many others do, I remember Ella with love.
Ella held me up in more ways than one. Once she literally held me up.
I was nearly nine months pregnant. I should have been off duty as the doctor had advised. However, I thought I could waddle in for one more all day meeting.
Ella and I worked at the Leestown Division. The meeting was at the Cooper Drive Division. So we were not that familiar with the restaurants that supposedly were nearby.
However, Ella believed she had identified a good choice for lunch. “Near by” turned out to be a relative term. I reminded Ella of my special condition. She assured me it was just a short walk and the exercise would be good for me and the baby.
Even though doubtful, I trusted Ella. So off we went. The restaurant was not where we thought it was. Every time we stopped and asked someone, they assured us it was “just ahead.”
Finally we had reached the point where it was too far to walk back without stopping to rest somewhere. I felt like I was about to deliver that baby right then and there.
Ella grabbed me by the arm and literally helped transport me into the restaurant when we finally made it.
I then discovered it was a vegetarian health food type restaurant. I am not a fan of vegetables or food I can’t identify.
Ella said, “Well today’s the day you eat something new because you need your strength. I am definitely not carrying you back and I am not delivering that baby!”
After eating a lunch of what I would have classified as weeds, we began our journey back. And yes, Ella practically carried me all the way.
For years after that, when we were having a hard day, Ella would laugh and say, “We can do this. We’ve done harder things. I carried a pregnant woman down Rose street!”
Ella was devoted to her family and friends. I heard many stories about K.T. And Lamont, all told with love.
Ella was loyal to the people she supervised, even in the face of her own death. Ella was on duty the day a man we all knew came to the hospital and killed his wife, who worked on Ella’s unit.
Ella made difficult decisions to protect everyone who was working. And she comforted all those who survived that awful day.
We talked about death and the unpredictability of life. We reaffirmed our belief that even though we did not know under what circumstances we would enter Heaven, we were sure we would. And we were sure that when we both got there, we would have a grand reunion.
Ella, I look forward to that day. And in the meantime, when things get tough down here, I will remember the times you carried me!