Friday, January 09, 2015

One night at a nursing home

This post was written one night a little before Christmas but I hadn't pushed publish. I found it in my drafts list today so here it is.

Tonight I was faced once again with the fact that I have no idea what need really is. 

This evening we went with our GAs and RAs to a nursing home/ rehab center a couple miles north of the church. I've been in nursing homes tons of times. We used to carol at nursing homes on Christmas day growing up, we would sometimes go and sing or give gifts at other times of the year, and my mom and my grandma each spent their final months in nursing homes where we would visit them often. Nursing homes are familiar places to me.

 This place was different. It wasn't like the rural NY nursing homes I was familiar with. It was run down. You could tell the patients were poor. I'm not sure if those there for rehab actually have homes to go home to when/ if they are released. We brought gifts to the people who lived there - lap blankets the kids had helped to make and bananas and we sang them Christmas carols. 

When I first heard that we were bringing lap blankets to the nursing home residents I envisioned going to a nursing home like the ones I frequented growing up and thought how many of those people definitely had no need for another blanket. These people though, these people could benefit from one. You should have seen the surprise and gratitude on the faces of the people there.

One visit in particular stuck out to me. I went into one room with a couple of bags to give to the ladies that lived there. One of the women was out of the room but R, a woman too young to be in a nursing home dressed only in a hospital gown, was there on the far side behind the curtain. I'm used to seeing people in the hospital in hospital gowns, in most nursing homes I've visited before the people usually have on clothing. I said hi to her and told her we had come to give her a Christmas gift. She was shocked. I showed her the blanket and she was so grateful and surprised that she started to cry. She told me they were happy tears because she couldn't get over the fact that we'd brought her that beautiful blanket. When she saw the bananas she exclaimed in wonder because she said she never gets fresh fruit. I took a minute and prayed with her before I headed back out into the hallway and, as I went, she thanked me and told me to keep doing my mission like this and that she wanted to give me a confirmation that I was doing the right thing. R speaking into my life made me cry. Sometimes I wonder what difference I can ever make but I realized, once again, that it doesn't take much: a minute, a smile, a touch, a prayer, a piece of fruit, a listening ear.

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40

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