“Life is too short to carry the burden of a heavy heart. It does not serve you or anyone else. Free yourself through the power of forgiveness and compassion.” –David Simon
Just two (long) weeks after Nick’s surgery, he’s up, at ’em, and ready to take on the world (and maybe a nap too). This afternoon we went to the county hospital and did Nick’s volunteer orientation and training. It’s been months in the making, but today marked the official beginning of Nick’s journey to give back. A HUGE thank you to Robyn the volunteer services coordinator, Tommy the caring trauma nurse extraordinaire, and June from Amputee Empowerment Partners and Hanger Prosthetics. As a group, they’re blasting through red tape to bring support and encouragement to hospital patients… in a Nick Fener kind of way.
As an amazing surprise, Nick was able to do his first visit with a patient today. And it was by personal request. We met the sweetest, most inspiring woman I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a very long time. She heard about Nick, heard he was going to be there today, and asked if she could meet him.
Her name is Velvet, and she gave me permission to share her story. Her health problems really kicked in about two years ago, and she was dropped from her insurance. With no other place to turn she began receiving care from the county hospital and has been in the hospital over ten times in the last two years. I just can’t imagine how difficult that has been for her. Yet, even with mounting health concerns, she’s a fun, quirky lady with a heart of gold and a personality that lights up a room. When we visited her, she wasn’t in a standard issue hospital gown, she brought her own brightly colored dress and had bright green nails to match. She greeted us all with big warm hugs and a genuine smile, despite being ill and stuck in a stale white hospital room. She doesn’t look like she feels too well, but her spirit sings a totally different song. She beams like the sun, is open and funny, likes to joke around with the nurses (just like Nick
used to still does) and she sees life through compassionate eyes that many of us may never have insight to.
She’s an artist. She colors beautiful felt posters and creates unique works of art straight from her heart. And she gives them away as Thank You’s to the staff of the hospital for her continued care. She spoke passionately of her desire to give back to those who have helped her and was keenly interested in how Nick planned to do the same. Her overflowing heart etched into our souls.
Nick and Velvet at the county hospital. Velvet is a true inspiration and beautiful spirit.
I don’t know about Velvet’s finances, but can only guess she has a very strained budget. She mentioned that each painting costs her about $18 including the frame. I immediately began thinking of ways to help her paint more, and pay less. Give more, live more, love more.
If you’re touched at all by her story, I ask that you visit your nearest Michael’s Craft store or Joann’s Fabrics (two stores I know she gets supplies from) and pick up a gift card for her. It doesn’t have to be much. Sign your name, or make it anonymous, it doesn’t matter, I know she will be overwhelmed with gratitude.
You can send them to the hospital at the following address:
RCRMC Volunteer Services
C/O Robyn Manning
26520 Cactus Ave
Moreno Valley, CA 92555
I resonated deeply with her when she spoke about her husband. In 32 years they have spent very little time apart. They are soul mates. It makes him crazy when she’s in the hospital. They are just doing the best they can do. Sometimes he’ll come have lunch with her and they will go down into the hospital cafeteria where he will lay out a table cloth, light a candle and put a few flowers on the table to make their time together more special.
If that doesn’t melt your heart with the warmth of true love and a survivor’s spirit, I don’t know what will.