AUNT TABBIE’S WINGS
by JACK DEY
A beautiful story of love, adventure, struggle and redemption
The old Bible, dog eared and fraying, lay closed on the old woman’s lap. She painfully flipped the cover open and stared down at the inscription on the first page. To my beloved Father, Sergeant Major Pell (Bluey) Burns. All my love, Tabbie. She ran her finger over the inscription. A tear slipped from her eye and plopped onto the back of her gnarled, skinny hand lying across the open Bible. The chrome wheelchair was parked hard against a large window, overlooking the garden and her legs were covered by a homemade, knitted, woollen blanket. As she sat peering out into the warm, afternoon sunshine, her praying lips began to slowly move, but making no sound.
Tabbie was sixty, but she looked more like ninety. Rheumatoid arthritis had invaded her body at an early age and now, painfully swollen joints made it impossible to do much, but sit and stare. The nurses did all they could to make their favourite charge comfortable and ease the pain, even though she didn’t complain. Tabbie would always enquire into the happenings of the lives of the nurses, her deep blue eyes full of compassion and wisdom. It wasn’t unusual to see a nurse sitting next to Tabbie, sobbing violently, as she emptied her heart to the old woman, basking in the love and hugs of which she seemed to have in volumes.
Everyone lovingly called her Aunt Tabbie.
There was something about Tabbie that drew people to her. A warm smile, a charismatic personality and a deep love for troubled humanity. She had a word of encouragement for everyone, from the doctor to the ones who emptied the rubbish bins. She was very observant and the nurses wondered whether she could actually see inside a person.
Tabbie’s skinny frame worried the doctors. She hadn’t been well for many months now and the arthritis was engulfing her, ever faster. Asked if she was feeling well, she would often reply with a twinkle in her eye, “My times are in the hands of my Father in Heaven.”
Tabbie had a busy visitor schedule. Every day well wishers would engulf her, hoping to bring comfort to the old lady, but in most cases the visitor would leave receiving the comfort. The nurses became annoyed when people visited just to take from the giving woman and use her as sounding board for their own problems. By the end of the day, they could see Tabbie’s strength starting to fade. She would become distressed physically, until they forbade any more visitors. Even after the tired woman was wheeled back to her room, her phone would ring incessantly into the evening. Tabbie, still giving and giving, until Matron put her foot down and the phone was diverted.
Although the night hours were racked with awful pain, that was the time she spent in the presence of Father, learning from Him and sitting at His feet in prayer. The door to her room was never locked. The nurses checked on her frequently during the night, monitoring her pain level. Even though Tabbie never complained, they knew when the pain level was becoming intolerable. Her sharp, blue eyes would start to cloud over, until a pain killer was administered and Tabbie would drift off into another world.
Matron Jillian Miles took her job seriously. She was a large woman with a round face and ran the nursing home like a tight ship. Nothing escaped her notice. If the nurses did anything wrong, they owned up to it immediately. Not only was she known for being tough, she also had a huge heart and didn’t hold a grudge. It was best to come clean with Matron and confess. Some had tried to conceal their guilt and Matron had let them have it with both barrels, once they were discovered.
They didn’t try it on again.
Matron looked up at the clock on the wall. 9:30 am. Time to do her rounds. The phone on her desk began to ring, calling her attention away from her responsibilities. She sighed and tussled with leaving it to ring, but gave in to her curiosity and answered it. “Matron Jillian Miles.”
“Hello, Matron, this is Senior Constable Ian Palmer.”
“Yes, Constable Palmer, what can I do for you?”
“You have helped us out with our Young Offender Programme in the past. I was wondering if we could bring a young, fourteen year old, at-risk female to see Aunt Tabbie. The last time, she facilitated a turnaround in a very tough case and this time, it’s even worse.”
“Constable Palmer, Tabbie is not well. I understand that she has an immense love for people, but she is in a nursing home for a reason!” Matron was becoming annoyed.
Palmer was feeling the sting of Matron’s tongue. “I understand your concerns, Matron, but the Young Offender Programme is falling helplessly behind and is failing this child. If I don’t do something, this child will self destruct.”
Matron could hear the desperation and concern in the young policeman’s voice and she became a victim to her own good heartedness. “I will talk to Tabbie and if she agrees, then you may bring her here. On one proviso…”
“Name it, Matron,” the young constable was about to agree to anything.
“The moment she starts to show signs of distress, you and the child are to leave. Immediately. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” Palmer nodded.
Two nurses helped Tabbie shower and dress and after she was presentable, Matron entered her room. “A young policeman has made a request, Tabbie. He has an at-risk, juvenile female whom he is hoping to bring for you to talk to. I will allow him to bring her here, only if you agree.”
The two nurses looked up at Matron in surprise, their gazes saying, you are not serious.
Tabbie’s blue eyes were brilliant in the morning light. She nodded, as if this meeting had already been arranged and she was expecting the child at any time. “Of course she can come,” Tabbie gasped, as the nurses lowered her into her wheelchair and then placed her woollen blanket over her legs.
Ian Palmer walked up to the front door of the nursing home, accompanied by a young girl. The young girl had protested loudly at coming to an old people’s home. Palmer gave her the choice. The old people’s home, or back to Greyton, a tough and regimented institution for hardened, juvenile offenders. The young girl had piercings all over her face and boot-polish-black, short, cropped hair. She wore traditional Greyton-dark-green, long trousers and shirt. Her face was hard beyond her years.
She didn’t trust anyone.
Palmer pulled the door open for the girl and she slipped in without saying anything. They walked down a polished corridor, his shoes making a clip-clop sound, echoing in the quiet as he walked. The girl looked around in horror at the sights she was taking in. Old people were being wheeled around, or slumped and parked in wheelchairs next to windows, just staring.
“Why did you bring me here?!” she asked, peering over her shoulder for a quick exit and back onto the streets.
“There is someone I want you to meet.”
“Well, I don’t want to meet them!” The girl was getting agitated.
“Calm down, Casey. There is nothing to fear here.”
“I’m not afraid!” she suddenly spat.
“Okay, Wonder Woman, prove it.”
The challenge calmed her down.
No one spooked out Casey Lowe.
They rounded a corner and pushed open a glass door, entering a large lounge room. An old woman in a wheelchair sat at the end of a lounge and smiled as they entered. Casey was immediately taken by the depth of the old woman’s blue eyes and she seemed to be surrounded by a peacefulness and warmth she had never felt before. Her smile drew Casey and she fought against it, closing her mind, not wanting to trust anyone.
“Casey, this is Aunt Tabbie.”
Tabbie took in the sight of the young girl perched uneasily on the edge of the lounge in front of her. She winced at the pieces of metal forced through the young, attractive, facial features, a sign of deep, self hatred. In her eyes reflected the hollow, destructive paths of violent storms, not too distant past. The emptiness of a short life full of pain, etched in distrust and her story written across her face.
“Casey, is it dear?” Tabbie asked quietly.
“Yeah!” she retorted.
“Would you like to tell me something of yourself?” Tabbie asked gently.
“Fat chance, lady!” Casey spat, looking around at Palmer.
“Casey…!” Constable Palmer chided.
Tabbie eyed the constable for a moment and then spoke, “Mr Palmer, would you excuse us for a moment, please?” Tabbie pointed to the door.
Reluctantly, Constable Palmer rose from his seat, gave Tabbie a look of concern and started for the entrance. “I’ll be just outside!”
Tabbie followed him to the door, pushing her wheelchair with her skinny arms. Once he was outside the room, Tabbie locked it behind him. A bewildered look on Palmer’s face, as he rattled the door from the outside, made Casey laugh. She quickly brought herself back in check. She didn’t want to find any reason to connect with this old lady.
Tabbie then wheeled herself directly opposite Casey. “Now, if you can’t tell me about you, would you allow me to tell you about me?” Tabbie asked with a smile.
Casey eyed Tabbie for a long moment, finally coming to a decision. “Yeah, if you want. But I ain’t saying nothin’.” Casey enforced her stance, by folding her arms across her chest. She couldn’t help but notice Tabbie’s rich, deep blue eyes as Tabbie searched the ceiling, looking for a place to start.
One orphan child’s journey through the horrors of abuse and torture at the hands of hatred. The trials and tribulations of a wounded heart and the ever present need to find the safety of a pure father’s love. Aunt Tabbie’s Wings is a heart warming story depicting the incredible healing and life changing power of Father’s agape love. Come on the journey and be inspired, lay down your life and set a child free.
RELEASED JULY 2014
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