Author Archive for Larry Patten

Come and See Grammy!


And he takes my hand and leads me back to the couch . . .

Come and see Grammy! She scared me at first, but then I think Grammy wants me to come sit by her.

This was a request from a nearly four-year-old grandson. In a church I served as an interim pastor, I visited a man whose wife had died. Temporarily helping the congregation for several months, I didn’t know him well and had never met his wife. Well, I had “met” her in a hospital’s intensive care unit. In her mid-seventies, she had a series of unexpected health emergencies that far too quickly led to her death. I had also done her funeral.

Preparing for the service, I learned about her from friends and family. A devoted wife. A loving mother. The go-to Grammy for favorite desserts and spur-of-the-moment babysitting needs. She had raised her kids, gotten a teaching credential, taught for two decades, and badgered her husband until he took her to Paris after both had retired. They had a thousand more plans.

None of those plans included her death.

I went to see her husband. Read More →

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What Would You Choose?


They couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.

We shook hands as I entered his home.

“Went to see the doctor yesterday,” he said.

Which I knew. This was years ago and he had told me the prior Sunday at church that he was going to see a recommended physician. An oncologist. As his pastor, I was visiting to see how things had gone, and to provide support.

“The doc was an okay guy. Didn’t ya think so, honey?”

Honey was his seventy-something significant other. Both had been married before. Both had gone through the deaths of spouses they loved. Both had told me, when I arrived a year before as their new minister, that they were sorry they weren’t legally hitched, but getting married might mean losing some retirement benefits. They couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.

“We just shack-up together,” he had said with a shrug and grin. She—his honey—rolled her eyes.

He had been in combat in Korea. Didn’t talk about it. She loved to chat about her grandkids. They owned a tidy modular home in a retirement “village,” pinched their proverbial pennies, and clearly adored each other.

Now he had cancer.

“Got me a little issue with bad tissue,” he joked.

In their cramped kitchen area, with a view of the vegetable garden she tended, he told me what kind of cancer it was, and then what the oncologist had explained. Read More →

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How Is Your Heart?

heartAccording to the chart, a new patient being discussed in the weekly team meeting had a “rapid apical pulse.”

One of our chaplains softly asked, “Could someone explain what an ‘apical pulse’ is?”

Saved by a chaplain!! I was glad someone as befuddled as me had asked about that medical term.

Several nurses responded, and soon at least two clueless people learned that taking a patient’s pulse with the stethoscope’s drum (or chestpiece) placed properly over the heart provides medical professionals with the loudest and most distinctive reading. This is called the apical pulse. Checking the wrist is known as a radial pulse and pressing fingers (gently, please) against the neck detects the carotid pulse. Read More →

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