Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hungry

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

18 comments:

Brea said...

Wow, AMEN Gillian! I'm so glad you're going to visit the sweet people. I know you and your children are a blessing to them, and they are obviously a blessing to you. Maybe we'll join you sometime.

Vivi said...

So true, and so beautiful. As a college student I visited regularly. Now I want to start the tradition with my kids. Would 4 be too overwhelming of a visit? I'm thankful for everyday He's blessed me with, and pray I can remember that!:-)

Peamama said...

Brea, they would love you and your kids! Definitely join us sometime. And Vivi, I say go for it! Your kids are so sweet and adorable; they would eat 'em up.

Brooke said...

Thanks Gil! I really needed this today. I have been well aware of my irritablity, high-frustration level, and distractedness as I "get ready for baby" and deal with the inevitable side-effects of the third trimester. My kids have been snapped at and swept aside by me so many times recently in my stress and false urgency. I've had no grace for them and the desire they have to just be with me. I need to treasure this time with them as much as I need to get ready for their little sister. I need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy - and not make them wary of approaching their mama. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn Page said...

I know what you mean. Dave and I take the boys to a alzeheimer's nursing home. We sing hymns and Dave gives a mini sermon. Even though many of the women and some men can't even remember their names, they know all the words to Amazing Grace. They are giddy to see Daniel and Calvin. We've been going there for three years now and I've witnessed many of them pass on. I miss them and their encouraging smiles. I'm glad you're visiting these women and showing your daughters how to love well.

Sunshine Eyes said...

Oh my goodness, this post made me weep. Thank you so much for these thoughts, they really do strike a cord with me. I need to remember to just hug them rather than doing things for/near my kids. I'm so glad for both you and for the sweet people that you've stepped in for Holly and her family. What a rich time.

The verse that you included at the bottom has special significance for me. I've included a link to a website of a band I know - the Spares sing a song called "I will wait for you" and the chorus is that verse, word for word. It should pop up and start playing if you visit... I hope you enjoy hearing those words sung, sometimes I just hum this tune and I feel better....

http://www.thespares.net/worship/index.html

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Gill. I'm so thankful you took the time to write this! Love you!
Ashley Smith

Kate Etue said...

Gillian, I love this. Such a great idea. I want to do this, or something.

trmills said...

Goodness, that's lovely, Gill. We visited there once with Holly and it was a joy- I love that you're spreading some of the Peabody sunshine there, and getting so much more from those sweet ladies in return. I love what you shared about what it all ultimately comes down to- I've been pondering that lately, too.

Anonymous said...

What a blessing you are giving and receiving...thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Holly and June will cherish these memories forever. You know Grandma goes every week to the nursing home near her to sing and lead a Bible study. She started going after her mom died 32 years ago. Kathy (Mimi)

Stephanie said...

Thank you for writing this. It was perfect timing for me as Alex has been sick all week, and home from school with me. We were packed up and ready to head out the door this morning when the doctor called to say he has strep throat and can't go to school. Normally this would have made me very grumpy, but since I read your post last night, and was reminded of how very short and precious our time is, I was able to look at our time together this morning as a gift. Thanks for your encouragement.

Anonymous said...

One day when I am the "sweet people" I pray God sends someone like you and your girls to visit me.

I to need and must slow down in order to truly live.

Words are so important thanks for sharing!

suz

Lynn T said...

Gill,
Thank-you for sharing this. I love how June went up to the lady with her arms open. You know that made that sweet lady's year! I needed to hear the reminder to slow down and soak up the time with Will and those dear to me more. Thank-you for that. Will's cubscout group goes to a Nursing home a few times a year and we always enjoy it. After reading this, I want to make a point to go more as we always leave so encouraged. Love you

Nana Bear said...

Gill this made me cry I remember my Dads Mother being in a nursing home.I am so thankful neither of my parents ever had to be in a nursing home. i will have to to find some sweet people in Nashville to visit.So sweet Junee Berry sitting on the sweet ladys lap.Love you Mom Dad and Davy

Christy said...

Oh man! I love that your Sweet People time has been so wonderful. I pass a nursing home on a regular basis and hurt for the people inside (when I actually take the time to think about it). But I assumed I'd be overwhelming to them, coming in with 2 little ones! Then your bit about June lighting up that woman's day ... that and thinking about how much I'm going to ache to hold a baby when mine are grown ... perhaps I was wrong!

Anonymous said...

"The Sweet People." I pray I won't forget that description and title. Thanks for your precious words.
norma

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Gillian.

Love from NC,
Catherine

Life Lived said...

Gillian, I just got the chance to read this. I am so impressed with you for doing this..the elderly get looked over so much of the time. REading this makes me realize more and more that God made us relational to the core..that is where we thrive and flourish. Keep on lovin on those sweet,spunky ladies..that's the love of God shining through you.and ps. that is crazy june is 1!where does time go? before we know it we will be home.