Thursday, October 21, 2010


The girls and I have been blessed lately to spend time with some wonderful people we call "the sweet people." My dear friend Holly nicknamed the residents at a nursing home this because she said they were so sweet. She took her children to see them every week until she moved away a couple of months ago. My friend Beth and I decided to fill in for her since "the sweet people" loved seeing children every week and missed Holly and her kids (but I don't think we will ever compare to the famous Holly at this place).

We have only gone twice but I just can't describe the impact these women have had on me already (there are some men, but it's mostly women). For one thing, many of them are as sharp as a tack. There is one lady I'll call Shelley who has become my favorite. She is a beautiful woman of 90 years old who is bedridden. She really never leaves her bed, except maybe to bathe. But she is full of encouragement and kindness and compliments. I am amazed that in a short visit of 5-10 minutes I come away feeling like a million bucks. We'll just be talking about the children or her grandchildren or something, and she'll slide in a compliment somehow that leaves me a little befuddled. (Aren't I here to encourage her? I neeed to focus more.)

Today she revealed her age to me and I honestly was shocked. Aside from being unable to walk around she has great mental acuity and her face looks young and happy. When I said, "Wow, you do not look like you are 90," she quickly came back with, "I thought you might say that. That's why I told you." Then I said, "I would have guessed 55," with a little smirk. She then asked, "Can it go a little lower?" I confusedly asked, "The bed? I'm not sure I know how to move it..." and she said, "No, no, the age. Can't it go a little lower?" That made me laugh out loud. I guess I need to work on my compliments!

As I was walking June out, I chatted with her roommate a bit and mentioned how quickly time goes by and how I can't believe June is already one. I didn't even think Shelley was listening because her TV was on the news and it looked like she was watching it, but she piped up without even looking over at me, "Time to have another one!"

Already telling me what to do. I love it!

Aside from being really amused by some of these sweet people, visiting them has also made me ponder my own life and what I value most. These women have a few pictures of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and maybe a few books and paintings in their rooms. After a full life of marriage, raising children, careers, and whatever else they accomplished in their lives, this is what is left: a small room and a few precious belongings.

It would make me cry just thinking about it if they didn't seem so happy and sweet. This nursing home looks like a four star hotel. The residents are well cared-for and are given lots of little luxuries. If I ever need to be in a nursing home I want my name on the list here.

But there is something that seems to mark every person we have visited: They are hungry. They are overjoyed that we have come. They want us to come again. They offer us little candies and little gifts. Every single room visit ends with a pleading, "Come back."

Today June toddled over to a lady eating her lunch and put her arms up for her to hold her. The lady eagerly threw her fork down, reached for June and held her like she would never get to hold another person in her life. That interaction almost did make me cry. She was so thankful to hold a baby and so happy that June reached for her. I could tell she savored every moment of that sweet embrace.

Every person we encounter is hungry for love and conversation and interaction. This is what they value most. They have all the time in the world and no-one to share it with. All of their possessions and achievements and jobs don't mean much to them now. What they want is to hold someone and love them and feel important.

I think I have mentioned before how I tend to be a doer. A busy person. I like to have projects and things to do and see. Maybe you can relate? I do love people and I love my children but I often find myself putting my "to-do" list above the people in my life.

But God seems to constantly be driving home this point to me to cherish the people and the days I have. I know one day I will be old (if I don't die sooner). That is a certainty. I'm not getting any younger. One day my children will be grown up and living lives of their own and I will be hungry to have time with them. I already know the ache of longing to hold and be with a beloved child.

Right now they are hungry for me. They are little and need me for just about everything and I'm tired. But for this day I'm praying for the grace to enjoy the life God has given me and the precious people he has entrusted me to love.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness!"

~Lamentations 3:21-23