Genevieve

As I walked into the room a stench of an indescribable odor struck me. Yet the horrid smell did not prepare me for the first sight of Genevieve. She was sitting up in bed with her short black curly hair neatly combed. Her olive complexion and features made me think she was of Italian or perhaps Greek nationality. The floral print coverlet was drawn up to her waist.

I had come bringing the Eucharist and realizing my purpose in being there,  her face lit up. She immediately held out her hands making a throne on which to receive Jesus an acceptable alternative to receiving on the tongue. Perhaps she chose this option because on her left cheek there was a black growth composed of grapelike lumps about the size of a tangerine__ the source of the smell that overwhelmed me.

In the quiet moment while she consumed the Body Of Christ I saw several prayer cards strewn next to her on the coverlet. She remained quiet and I respected her silence. Leaving the room I noticed a framed photo of three teenagers on her dresser and  thought she was praying for them.

I visited Genevieve several times after that and each time she held out her hands to receive the ultimate food for her soul. On my last, visit lingering for a time, I said, “You are beautiful.” And indeed she was. She said flatly, “I am not beautiful.” We looked each other in the eye and I somehow knew she realized I meant what I said.

My short time substituting for the regular Eucharistic Minister at the nursing home ended. I never saw Genevieve again. Months later I visited a Catholic church in a nearby town and saw in the bulletin a Mass was being offered in her memory.  I still wonder about her story, her faith and the young people in the photo. I believe I had met a Saint.

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