Saturday, January 19, 2008
Rays of sunshine on a cold afternoon
Caffeine from Sonic: $1.97
1/2 tank of gas: $20.00
Bringing smiles to 87 nursing home residents: Priceless
My 95-year-old maternal grandmother lives in a nursing home about two hours away. I try to get down to see her as often as I can, but that isn't nearly as often as I'd like. When my mother was still living, Grandma's place was a convenient rendezvous point for us, and we met there every other month or so, sometimes to spend a weekend (when Grandma still had her own place) and then after she moved to Legacy Lodge we spent many happy Saturdays at the home. Sometimes I would bring my Cairn terrier Bagel, and Aunt Mary (my mother's oldest sister) would bring her schnauzer Lady. Oh, the stir it caused when we walked those two puppies down the halls. We could attract a following quicker than the Pied Piper.
After mom and Aunt Mary died, I'm afraid I haven't been as faithful about visiting, a fact that makes me terribly un-proud of myself.
Today was forecasted to be bright and sunny (albeit COLD!), and so the two little princesses and I decided earlier in the week that today might be a nice day to visit Grandma Gerry. The moment we stepped in the front doors, I remembered why I love spending time there. The mere sight of children brings smiles to faces that look as if they haven't smiled in months, if not longer. It is clear by their desire to touch us that many haven't been hugged in a very long time.
Some of the sights, smells, and sounds of elderly hovering somewhere between life and death are disturbing, but to my children's credit, they seem undaunted. My grandmother moved into her facility just two months after my first child was born, so these sights and sounds are nothing new to them. They neither stare nor look uncomfortably the other way.
And so we walk down the hallways and touch as many hands as we can. I have told my kids not to be afraid when the sweet residents want to stroke their hair or hold their hands. Sometimes a resident simply wants to look into the eyes of one of my babies. When this happens, and I see the smile and nostalgia pass across his or her face, I wonder if they are remembering their own childhood. Or perhaps their own children as youngsters.
I'm so thankful that the girls don't see these visits as long, arduous afternoons to be endured. They love the attention they get and enjoy being beams of sunshine in an otherwise dark and sad place.
If the Lord grants me many years on this earth and the final chapter of my life is spent in a nursing facility, I do hope that there are many kind children (and puppies!) who won't mind if I run my fingers through their hair from time to time.