The hospital volunteer peers into the bowl of sticky, blue, tapioca-like substance on the table in the Child Life Activity Center.
With one finger, she gingerly reaches in and touches the glob of goo, then draws it back as if she has been bitten.
“This isn’t right,” she says. “Needs more starch.”
When Jeanette retired after three decades with the St. Petersburg Police Department and decided to volunteer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, never in a million years did she think she’d be making slime. But here she is, giving back.
Jeanette wants to make sick kids feel happy and special, and she’d like parents to be encouraged.
"I try to stay prayed up, because you see a lot,” Jeanette says. "It’s one thing to be an older person and be sick. But to be a child …”
She trails off, with early memories of Lorenzo. Her light. Her joy. Her grown-up boy.
Twenty-two years ago, Lorenzo came into the world–two months early. He weighed only 2 pounds, 11 ounces.
It was a frightening time for both mother and baby. Jeanette was gravely ill from the effects of preeclampsia. Her blood pressure was off the charts. Her organs were shutting down.
“He saved both our lives by coming when he did,” Jeanette says.
Jeanette was too ill to even know where she was those first few days after giving birth. It would be close to 10 days before she was strong enough to visit her tiny boy.
“I was so excited to meet Lorenzo, I put on lipstick,” she recalls with a smile.
When she finally saw her newborn in the isolette, it was love at first sight. She knew he was in good hands here, at a hospital with a long tradition of nurturing fragile and premature infants into optimal health. Surely things would work out.
Twenty-two years later, the love and gratitude are boundless.
“He has such a cool spirit,” she says. “I cannot put into words how blessed I feel to be the person God chose to bring him into the world.”
Lorenzo has made his parents, Jeanette and Lendel, proud.
A good boy who brought joy into the home.
A responsible teen who finished high school with great grades.
A focused young man who earned a degree from Florida State University in three years.
Soon after that, an exciting internship in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
Now Lorenzo is studying online for his master’s degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University–-making A's so far. He just wants to make his parents happy, after all they’ve done for him.
This family wants to lift up others who are struggling through a difficult season in their lives, perhaps with an illness, and who may be feeling hopeless or discouraged. Keep the faith. Never give up.
Lorenzo shares an analogy his parents taught him early on, about trusting in the bigger picture that we cannot see.
“We tend to find ourselves on the puzzle piece … but God sees the entire puzzle. So things may not make sense to you, because you can’t see where everything fits, but at the end of the day, you have to trust that you’ll be exactly where you’re supposed to be.”