Nothing You Can Do About It
By Paul Teodo & Tom Myers
She reached out to me. She was blind, mostly deaf too. She struggled to locate my face, gently grasping it with her bony purple fingers. “I love you, and there is nothing you can do about it.” She is 103.
I met her eight years ago at Holy Cross Hospital where I worked in west Englewood. A poor people's hospital on Chicago's south side. I’d been canned from a prestigious medical center in the western suburbs. A place that was full of people who have no clue where the Cross is. She was a lot younger then, just 95. At that time she was pushing around a walker adorned with fluffy stuffed animals, red streamers and reading a book a week.
Sister Delphine Grigas, entered this world in 1915. Born In the middle of the pack of 13 children. From the old country, Lithuania, an ancient land, once the largest in Europe that has been around over a 1000 years. It first declared independence in 1253, again after WWI, yet again in 1990, the Russians finally vacating the Republic in 1993. The Final Solution began there, during the Nazi occupation 195,000 of its 200,000 Jews were exterminated.
Sister Delphine was raised near the Pennsylvania coal mines. Ordained in 1934 she worked as a teacher in Hispanic and African American schools on the south side and as a hospital chaplain before retiring in 1985.
She is my friend. My good friend. Today when I visited her I said a prayer out loud. I asked "Sister how'd I do?” I made the prayer up off the top of my head. She gave me a thumbs up, then said in her raspy voice "A-plus!"
First A-plus I ever got from a nun.
She told me today "I talked to Mother Superior and a priest.”
I didn’t understand.
She could tell. “It’s OK now, I have permission, they no longer give me medicine, take my blood pressure, draw blood, run tests or give me solid food. "It's my time to die."
She wasn't sad, or depressed. She looked relieved.
She asked if I wanted to hear a joke. She’s always got a half dozen or so for me when I visit. Usually the same ones. I said “Sure.”
She smiled. “Two boys loved baseball. One of them said to the other, ‘Do you think there is baseball in heaven?’ The one boy said, ‘I'm not sure, I hope so. If I get there before you, I'll let you know.’ The boy dies. He comes back to his friend and says, ‘Good News! There is baseball in heaven, and you are pitching tomorrow!’” She howled with laughter struggling through the punch line.
I asked for a favor. She said, “Sure.”
“Come back and tell me when I'm pitching!"
She loved it, and I loved that she loved it.
I kissed her goodbye. Then again with her diminished but firm raspy voice, pointing her twisted purple finger at me, “I love you Buster, and there is nothing you can do about it.”