Tag Archives: friendship

A Friend In Need: Hospital Visits


[Image: Courtesy of “Scattered Joy” blog]

Dear Readers,

We are all familiar with this question: “What can I do for my friend who is ill?”   Perhaps my story will provide some answers to that question!

It’s been quiet here at “Margot’s Corner” because I have been ill for a month, including a hospital stay for ten days.  I will spare you the details, which are interesting only to my family and medical team.  Happily, I  am now home, recovering  from my “mystery malady.”

I learned, through this challenging time, to ask for help.   One friend, in particular, was an “angel of mercy,” during my time of need.  She will know who she is, when she reads this entry:  This is my “thank you” to her and to ALL my helping and praying family and friends!

Note:  “Hints” are for friends of the patient.  “Tips” are for the patient.


Hint:  No one receives adequate  sleep in the hospital and an ill person craves sleep more desperately than even nutrition and company.  So, always ask your friend if he/she is accepting visitors.


  • When you sign the hospital admittance papers, specify “No Visitors”  and “Do Not Give Out Information About Me.”
  • Ask the staff to post a sign on your hospital door.  My sign specified:  “No Visitors, Except for My Family and Priests.”  You can, of course, give your room number to specific clergy, family, and friends.
  • Disconnect the “land phone” in the hospital room.  In fact, disconnect BOTH land phones, if it is a semi-private room.  They will, invariably, loudly ring and interrupt your sleep.
  • Use your cell phone, if you must, but turn the ringer OFF when you are sleeping.


I asked my friend to ignore the sign on the door.  I have known my friend for over 30 years;  she practically IS family.

Having an eye for design, my lovely blue-eyed friend wore a beautiful Delft blue top, blue crystal earrings, and she carried a vase of “living” bright red tulips, still blooming from their bulbs.  When I saw my friend walk into my hospital room, I exclaimed, “What beauty!  What color!”   [Pause.]  “And just look at the tulips, too!”

Hint:  A patient in the hospital craves beauty and color:  As I gazed at those tulips, they were a living symbol of nature and a reminder of hope:  I would soon return home, to plant my spring flowers!

Hint:  Hospital rooms are very small, so be prepared, to [instead] deliver flowers to the home of your friend.  He or she will enjoy them during recuperation, I assure you!


Tip:  No appetite for hospital meals?  From the Dietician’s Aide, request the “Fruit Plate with Cottage Cheese” or the “Supper Salad.”

Hint:  During my hospital stay, I had little appetite for solid food — yet I craved something cold, liquid, nutritious, refreshing, healthy, and not sweet:   My friend had the perfect solution:  She brought me, for three consecutive days, a hand-made “Green Smoothie,” from her own kitchen:  It was chock-full of organic vegetables and fruits, with no added sugar of any kind.  I kept the “Smoothie” cold,  in the styrofoam and plastic water pitcher on my “meal tray.”   I am convinced my recovery began after the first sip of that “Smoothie.”  My friend also provided the Smoothie recipe:

Green Smoothie Recipe

“If using a regular blender:  First cut up [the veggies and fruit] into smaller pieces because they can get “stuck” or frozen.  The key is to use small portions and blend, a little at a time, instead of putting it all in at once.

This will probably make enough “Smoothies” for two people.  It will last two to three days, in the refrigerator, or you may freeze it in small containers, defrost, and re-blend.  This recipe will yield about eight cups.

Put a few ice cubes in the blender and crush, to help solidify everything else.  Then, add ingredients, one at a time, and blend:”

1 hand-full of fresh baby spinach leaves

2 small heads of broccoli

1/2 apple [core but do not peel]

1 banana

a little bit of flax-seed oil, if you have it

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

4 frozen strawberries

4 slices of frozen peaches

Whatever else you may have in the refrigerator  . . .

Ice:  enough for desired consistency



Tip:  The staff is very busy and does not have time to help a patient take a shower.

Tip:  Plan ahead:  Keep your essential toiletries in a travel pouch and grab it before you rush out the ER or Hospital.

Tip:  The hospital supplies some toiletries but they are not available in quantity or quality.

Hint:  While in the hospital, I was not yet strong or stable enough to take a shower by myself.  So, my friend brought me samples of her luxurious shampoo and conditioner and helped me with my shower & shampoo.  Now, that is a true girl friend!

Hint:  A patient needs toiletries — without fragrances and with gentle [and, if possible, organic] ingredients. Ask your friend for suggestions.  I recommend:

  • Shampoo, conditioner, comb, headband, bath/shower gel, face moisturizer, body lotion, mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste, and lip balm.
  • To encourage sleep:  A sleep eye-mask, silicone ear plugs, and a homeopathic remedy:  Hyland’s “Calms Forte.”  [Of course, ask your physician about this remedy.]



Tip:  Plan ahead:  Every morning, ask “Housekeeping” for fresh bath linens, sox, and two hospital gowns.  Also, ask “Housekeeping” to make your bed with fresh sheets, while you are in the shower.

Tip:  Tie the first gown in the back.  Over that first gown, tie the second gown in the front.  Now, you have a “gown” and a “robe.”  Clean sheets, clean gown & robe & sox, clean body & hair:  It is bliss!


My friend recognized my need for stimulating conversation and indulged me by sitting with me in the “Waiting Room,” where we discussed theology for about fifteen minutes.

Hint:  Your friend is eager to hear about the “outside world” and craves stimulating conversation.  For myself, I was so weary of repeating my health issues that it was a relief to talk about anything other than my health.  So, dear friends, please do not ask your ill friend for details.


  • Offer to read a favorite book  to your friend.
  • Bring an iPod with ear buds and recorded books and beautiful music.
  • Or, bring a magazine or a journal that you know your friend might appreciate:  Ask for suggestions, however!  A Birkenstock-wearing, silver-haired grandmother [like me] will prefer to read “Real Simple” or “Southern Living,” for instance.


Even though my priest, Fr. Michael, referred to my hospital stay as a “Reading Vacation,”  the truth is that I was sleep-deprived:  my head hurt, my eyes would not focus, and I had difficulty concentrating.  I chuckled every time I glanced at the 1300-page volume of “Les Miserables,” which I asked my husband to bring me.  I was too weak to even lift the heavy volume!

I would have been much happier with “Anne of Green Gables,”  which I read, with glee, when I returned home.

Hint:  Everyone needs a “comfort book,” to read when ill.



Visiting a friend in the hospital is an immense labor of love, time, and energy:  A visitor must park in the parking deck, find the elevators, walk through endless corridors, and find the room number.  After that Herculean effort, a friend does NOT want to find an empty room when he/she arrives.

[For instance, each diagnostic test, plus transport, requires one to two hours.]

Hint:  If your friend is accepting visitors, send a text message confirmation before you leave for your hospital visit.

Tip:  Text or call your family, friends, and clergy and advise them:

  • if you are going to be absent from the hospital room for any reason.
  • ASAP, after you find out you will be discharged.


Gifts from Family &  Friends:

Tip & Hint:  I sent brief daily email updates to one friend and to one family member:  They “spread the word” to a wider circle of family and friends.  Family and friends knew how to pray specifically for me.  Such a blessing!

Hint:  Friends prepared simple suppers for Stephen, which were invaluable.  After working all day, Stephen came to visit me in the evenings in the hospital, knowing that he could look forward to a home-cooked meal.  All he needed to do was microwave the supper.  Soup and stews work particularly well.

Hint:  Once I returned home, friends prepared simple suppers for both Stephen and me, which were delicious and most welcome.

Hint:  Ask about strong preferences and intolerances.  Store the supper in containers that your friend does not have to return.  Or, if this is not possible, clearly label the storage containers and offer to pick up the containers.  This is such a huge help!

To all my dear family, friends, and priests who are reading this blog entry:  Thank you for your care, concern, and prayers!

Coram Deo,


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Filed under friendship, Help a Friend Who Is Ill, hospital

A Valentine from “Currer”

On Love:

Love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the wellbeing of one’s companion.

If you don’t love another living soul, then you’ll never be disappointed.

On Life:

But life is a battle: may we all be enabled to fight it well!

I try to avoid looking forward or backward and try to keep looking upward.

Better to try all things and find all empty, than to try nothing and leave your life a blank.

On Happiness and Cheerfulness:

There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.

Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.

On Friendship:

If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake, rather than for our own.

Friendship, however, is a plant which cannot be forced — true friendship is not a gourd, springing up in a night and withering in a day.

On Forgiveness:

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.

On Courage:

I remembered that the real world was wide and that a varied field of hopes and fears,

of sensations and excitements, 

awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse,

to seek real knowledge of life, amidst its perils.

“Currer Bell” was the nom de plume — not the nickname — of the British author, Charlotte Bronte.  

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855)

was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards.

Margot’s Commentary:

Charlotte Bronte was an extraordinary woman of her time:  She published her book, Jane Eyre, under the pen name of “Mr. Currer Bell,” because of prejudice against woman authors.  Her two sisters also adopted nom de plumes:  Ann was “Acton Bell” and Emily was “Ellis Bell.”

Here is a question for you:  How would you describe the heroine of the book, Jane Eyre, in twenty-five words or less?  Here is my attempt:

“Jane is bravely willing to suffer any loss in life, in order to retain her integrity, honor, self-respect and independent spirit.”

Jane is a unique woman of virtue, substance, depth, wisdom,  intelligence, honesty, dignity, and imagination.  She understands and demonstrates, through her life, one of those most essential and vital truths about authentic, solid, and everlasting love between a man and a woman:  With clarity and without sentiment, she understands that love must be built upon a foundation of  mutual respect and trust between two equals.

Read the book, Jane Eyre, and read a biography on the author.  Discover the points at which their lives intersect.  Discover why Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels and why Charlotte Bronte is one of my favorite authors.

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Filed under Valentine's Day

To a Winter Rose


Dear Readers,

[Note:  This is a re-post.  Monday December 10, 2012 will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of my friend, Cheryl.  I am providing this link on Face Book, to honor the memory of Cheryl.]

January 10, 2011

Exactly one month ago, my friend, Cheryl, died — on the same morning that the first of the Camellias bloomed in our garden.  Since it is difficult for me to find the words to express what her friendship meant to me, I will borrow from the language of flowers:

The Camellia is The Winter Rose but I first met Cheryl in the summer, only six months ago.  I remember my first impression:  she was elegant and lovely yet fragile and delicate.

We refer to the Camellia, poetically, as the rose without thorns.  Yet, I soon learned that Cheryl’s life did contain thorns:  when her mother died of breast cancer, Cheryl was only thirteen years of age.  When I met her, Cheryl was battling breast cancer for the third time, within a span of ten years.

In spite of her affliction, she was spirited and vivacious.  She and her husband, Doug, downplayed the seriousness of Cheryl’s health challenges:  They were brave, courageous, and optimistic.

She possessed a beauty borne of years of suffering.  The natural tendency, in suffering, is to isolate oneself.  Instead, over the decades, she invested herself in nurturing strong relationships with family and friends.

In the autumn, as Cheryl’s health declined, the families of both Doug and Cheryl welcomed me into their closely knit circle.  They taught me how an extended family cares for each other, during the deepest and darkest season of affliction.

Doug was her protector:  She depended upon him and he was entirely trustworthy.  He arranged for her comfort and companionship, during the hours that he was at the university.  He was unfailingly energetic, optimistic, and gracious to everyone, in spite of struggling with the harrowing thought of losing his wife.

Their commitment to marriage [almost 31 years] and to each other was strong, pure, and everlasting.

Cheryl’s life demonstrated the symmetry of integrity:  She knew what she believed and she lived out what she believed.  She was consistent in both character and virtue.  Her commitment to both Christian faith and practice was unwavering.

Elegant and beautiful yet fragile and delicate; loving and trusting her husband and family; generously giving herself in friendship and service to others; trusting in the Holy Trinity for her life on earth and for her eternal future:  Those were the enduring qualities of my friend, Cheryl.

On this winter day, glancing out my window, I can see our Camellia bushes:  The red and pink blooms offer a welcome burst of color in the cold, dreary, rainy landscape.  As I pause to admire the perfect blooms, I remember the gentle and light fragrance of Cheryl’s life.   She loved the Holy Trinity  “with all [of her] heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  It was this self-emptying love for God and for others that drew family and friends to her.  Even when her own life was fading, she was concerned for the welfare of those around her.

Cheryl loved beautiful, sacred music, as do I, and she was gifted with a superb singing voice.  Every Sunday morning, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, the voices of both the congregation and the choir combine to sing the ancient hymns of worship. As we lift our voices with “all the company of heaven,”  I can imagine the lovely sound of Cheryl’s clear and soaring voice, a reflection of  the depth and beauty of a life lived well, to the glory of God.

“ . . . with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore praising thee, and saying,

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts:

Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.

Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High!” 


“You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return.  For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return.’

All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song:  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”


“Grant her your peace; let Light Perpetual shine on her; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in her the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

“Give rest, O Christ, to your servant, Cheryl, with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.  Amen.”

Coram Deo,


[Written by Margot Blair Payne, January 10, 2012].

[Quotes are from the Book of Common Prayer.]

In her book, “A Victorian Flower Dictionary,” Mandy Kirby notes that the Camellia is “the Empress of Winter,” bringing lightness and gaiety to a dark time of year.

“It was the belle of winter flowers, gracing dinner parties, balls and concert rooms,” Kirby writes, and soon came to represent “a simple expression of feminine beauty and love.”

The Camellia:

The Empress of Winter

The Belle of Winter

The Rose Without Thorns

Qualities: Longevity, Evergreen, Symmetry

Feminine Qualities:  Elegance, Loveliness, Beauty,  Lightness, Gaiety, Trust

Masculine Qualities:  Protection, Excellence, Steadfastness, Trustworthiness

Qualities of Love:  Strong, Pure, Everlasting

Other:  Admiration, Perfection, Gratitude



Filed under Life and Death of a Friend