Living and Dying Well
If there ever was a person who lived life to the full in the midst of suffering, it was my wife of almost 53 years, Janelle Green. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis some 40 years ago, she never looked back. She was always looking forward. She used to say, “You can see more through a windshield than you can through a rear view mirror.”
Of course, she had her moments. She was human. If you’ve read her published book, This Earthly Tent, you’d know about those brief, but defined moments of anger. But her joy was on full display when she was able to share her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with others.
I remember one Saturday morning in particular while we were in Walmart. I watched Janelle, in her wheelchair, stop a woman who was crying and share what God had done in her own life. She counseled many who had been diagnosed with MS, cancer, or other debilitating diseases. I was always amazed and asked myself, ‘How does she do it?’ The Walmart encounter ended with prayer, unashamedly, with such beauty, in the middle of the aisle beside the huge boxes of Tide laundry detergent. There was a cleansing of sorts on display for all to see.
I remember vividly the time she fell out of her wheelchair in Fuddruckers and hurt her legs. She didn’t even whimper until I moved her from the wheelchair to the truck. I took her to Dr. Harris’ office, and when the x-rays were completed a flood of medical technicians and the office clerk came into the waiting room with tears in their eyes to deliver the news that both legs were broken. They asked, “Mrs. Green, how are you standing the pain? Let’s get you to Lexington Medical Center right now.” Her bones were so brittle that she later broke her leg just above the ankle. It wasn’t until I saw the bulge in her leg that I knew, because Janelle had not complained. It had to hurt, but she didn’t want to add to my concerns or my burdens. That’s how selfless she was.
My wife remained a very strong person even though she was physically very weak. She continued a card ministry and telephone ministry from home after she lost the ability to write. Even when she lost the ability to speak clearly, she still did not question, ‘Why me, Lord?’ Instead, her amazing attitude was, ‘Why not me?’
By August of 2015, Janelle had developed horrible pressure sores from sitting in a wheelchair for 27 years. Dr. Scott Tabor, a wound specialist, recommended surgery. Afterwards, she was placed on bed rest almost 24/7. She was connected to a wound vac machine, had a catheter, a colostomy bag, and spending most of her time in a fluidization bed.
Still, she did not complain.
Instead, she focused on memorizing Scripture to share with visitors. One was Isaiah 40:31 (NASB).
Yet those who wait upon the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary.”
Another of her favorites, which became the inspiration for her book, This Earthly Tent, was 2 Corinthians 5:1, For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands” (HCSB).
After memorizing more than 50 Bible verses, she surprised me one day by saying, “I need to memorize the 23rd Psalm.” I replied, “Everyone knows the 23rd Psalm.” To which she replied, “Not me, and I want to learn it.” So she asked her caregiver, Helen, to make flashcards to help her.
Janelle was on hospice for about six months. Near the end, she could barely speak. But I’ll say this for her, she could still smile. She could also shake her head no, and nod yes. She could even purse her lips when she wanted more Chapstick, or a kiss or two. Even then, she was living and dying with dignity.
On October 6, 2017, Janelle soared on wings like eagles into her Savior’s arms without complaining.
Though tears are flowing as I write, I’m not crying for Janelle. I’m crying for me. She wrote some time ago about her own death,
“I am happy. I want you to be happy.”
Praise God for the life of my wife, Janelle Glenn Green; and for always being her constant Companion.
Rick Green loves life and loves to laugh. He enjoys singing in the choir and serving as a Sunday School teacher at Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce, SC. Pre-retirement, Rick was a successful Lumber Sales Rep. with The Building Center, and a former co-owner of a commercial construction supply company.