Many years ago, when I was a young mother frequently overcome by seven children under 12, I dreamed of a magic illness that didn’t hurt, wouldn’t cause any long-term problems but would require a short stay in the hospital, where I could get lots of sleep, rest, be waited on and recover with no ill effects.

Lo, and behold, the good Lord in his wisdom visited such a thing upon me, and this past month I suffered a recurrence of this “cure.”

Once again, I discovered that no such thing exists.

In the midst of my hopefully final move, I suddenly found myself falling down. Not tripping falls, but good old-fashioned sudden fainting spells. Never having fainted in my life, I was flummoxed. Yes, we had been changing my blood pressure medications, but this was new and certainly not fun.

Twice one morning I had fallen. Quickly recovering but shaken, I sat down and got my act together. So far just my hip was sore, but I didn’t want to press my luck. One more time I stood, felt the strange feeling “I am going to fall,” said aloud “Oh no!” and down I went. My cane went one way, and after landing on my hip, I rolled and whacked the back of my head a good one. After a minute or two, I managed to roll up and crawl onto an ottoman and reached for the phone. Calmly I called 911 and explained that I didn’t need sirens, but I would appreciate some help.

Within minutes two super gentlemen entered, and after checking my vital signs they silently hauled me off to the emergency room. There, I was checked, rechecked, scanned, X-rayed, bled and thoroughly examined. The consensus was that no one was sure what was happening.

All morning and afternoon I lay there on the gurney, smothered in blankets and begging for water. Because of the head bump they were hesitant to do more than swab my dry mouth with lemoned sticks. Needless to say, I became pretty grumpy.

By early evening they decided I needed further examination and they checked me in. For just a day or so, they assured me. “Till we figure this out.”

Ha! Famous last words. I was aching all over, anxious to return home , hungry and mean, and they were determined not to release me by myself until they figured out why I fell down and went boom! That was on Friday night.

Every day I was cossetted, bled, had my vitals checked regularly and assured that sooner or later we would figure out what was going on. I acquired a tall, charming doctor with a slight accent and a bedside manner that would melt. He assured me that my “electrolytes” were out of balance. Seems these keep things on an even keel, and mine had decided to go on strike. No knowing why; just let’s get ’em back on track. So I began the great salt diet.

Sodium, good old NaCl. Somehow my body had decided to deplete it, and that wasn’t good. The solution? Enormous salt pills, crushed into a palatable applesauce and swallowed. One every eight hours. Regularly. So, for two weeks while I recovered my balance, flashed the entire floor with my oversize “johnny” and complained about staying in bed, I swallowed my salt. Waited as it did its normal flushing job, then took it again.

Finally, a magic number was reached and I was free! Home … still half unpacked from the move … but home. Swearing to everyone to behave myself and take it easy, I relaxed in a clean nightie and my own comfortable recliner. I ate peanut butter sandwiches, drank chamomile tea and binged on hours of PBS shows. For one day.

It was Holy Thursday, and I went to church. All Lent I had sought a means of truly experiencing the season and had yet to settle on anything. I watched the priest wash the feet of several members of the congregation. I heard the sermon on Jesus as servant … a king who served. That evening, after the service, the ladies of the church informed me they were coming to visit me the next day and help me unpack.

Good Friday morning the ladies arrived. “Just tell us what to do and then sit down and be quiet,” they said sternly. I showed them the bedroom full of boxes, bags and mess and explained that hats had to be put on shelves, the bed remade correctly, the closets filled and the furniture arranged.

In the living room, they tackled hanging pictures, moving chairs and tables. In the kitchen they cleaned cabinets, hung spice racks and created order out of chaos. In the bathroom, they hung cabinets, towels and even my picture of a “Lady in the Bath.”

They laughed, chatted and worked. Occasionally they asked for my approval. Usually they shushed me and escorted me back to my chair. About 1 o’clock, they called it a morning, everyone hugged me and they left me stunned.

Servants of the Lord. Smiling, laughing, taking care of someone in need. Their love a given. Their work a labor of love. What a wonderful Easter gift.

That night I slept soundly in my properly made bed. I even crushed and consumed my salt pills with enthusiasm. Come Easter morning, I could face the new start with joy and appreciation of those who understand that service comes in many forms, and love is all about doing for others.

May your Easter season be as joy filled and thankful as mine.

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Citizen Columnist Kay Fowler Schweers, the Artful Codger, is the mother of seven, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of five. She lives gratefully alone and continues to downsize while she buys and reads yet another book.

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