I conversed with a fellow traveler and it made time go even faster as we talked. There was so much food for thought; but the conversation about our elderly relatives sticks out in my mind.. He talked about his uncle’s tears of joy after he spent time with him in an assisted living center. He vowed to take his sons to meet this special and beloved uncle who is well into his 90’s.
One of the biggest fears that I believe the elderly have is that they will be forgotten. As Psalms 71:9 says, “Cast me not off in the time of old age.” Sometimes, we get so busy taking care of our own needs that we forget to go and visit what the southern churches termed as the “sick and shut-in.”
It takes a lot of patience and often an extra hour or two to go and sit or hold the hand of a dear elderly loved one. There may not be a lot of conversation, but my mother used to always say,”The greatest thing you can give a person is your presence.” Sending the monthly check is one thing but oftentimes our loved ones may not even remember that someone is sending a check on a regular basis. But, what they do remember is the one who took the time to just come and sit a while.
I recently read Jigsaw Pieces, a book by Carol Hedges who is a fellow Twitter writer. Her teen character has the school assignment whereby she must go and visit an elderly WWI veteran. He does not speak, but he definitely knows when she is there. She brings him new drawing pencils and he lights up like a child and starts creating immediately after she opens the package.
As the adage goes, we may not have silver and gold, but we should make time for our loved ones who are in assisted living or wherever they may live. When I used to visit my aunt at the nursing home, before she passed away, I felt a sense of guilt when it was time to leave. I wanted to swoop her up and make things right, but I knew that I did not have the medical expertise to care for her. This same gentleman with whom I spoke said he felt the same way when it was time to go. He said he hesitated and even went back and stayed a little longer with his uncle.
As we know, visiting these places can be difficult. It is also hard to witness them as they decline in health. But, spending time with them gives us an advantage and a certain insight into the life process that others may not possess. In Hedges’ book, her teen character becomes wiser than her classmates simply from spending one -on- one time with the veteran who was almost 100. She sees a lot and has to ponder more deeply.
When I visited my aunt at her apartment before she went into the nursing home , I also felt a certain peace. She liked to watch the baseball games mute d with the radio playing. We did not talk that much but being there was calm and it gave me a brief reprieve from my own personal storms. So when give to our elders or to anyone for that matter, we give to ourselves.
Lynn August 17, 2014