“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” Psalm 71:9
My husband’s uncle was a hard working Wisconsin dairy farmer. He, also loved keeping record of his ancestry and would host many reunions. During some childhood Summers, my husband would go out to Wisconsin and visit. When he was a kid, his uncle would throw him up in the air and catch him in his arms. My husband has very fond memories of spending time with he and his family.
We went to visit that uncle and aunt this past summer vacation. My husband wanted to have our daughter see the place he cherished going to as a kid. Our daughter would be meeting my husband’s uncle for the first time. But we would have to visit him in a special facility. He has Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that affects his central nervous system. He had been living with it for many years, but he fell and has been needing round the clock care for the last 3 years.
The first morning we were there, we visited him. I saw his frail body sitting in a wheel chair, eyes completely shut to the world. The nursing staff, would talk to him and he wouldn’t even move. They tried to feed him, nothing happened. We decided to try a visit again tomorrow. As I walked out of the room, I burst into tears. I had an idea of what to expect. But it is was more heart wrenching than I believed it would be. All these thoughts came into my head…
“Would my parents need this type of place?”
“Would my husband or I need a place like this?”
“We should have visited sooner.”
We came back the next four days in a row. These days were better. He was responsive and would eat on his own. He tried to speak. Sometimes, we could understand a word or two, most times, nothing. He did delight us with some Hymn singing. My husband’s Aunt, told her husband, that we came to visit. He looked at my husband. He stared at him. I wondered if he knew who he was. Then I noticed his eyes becoming watery and a tear fell down his face. My heart broke and leaped at the same time. He knew. He was happy. He said, “Been a long time.” My husband said, “I look a little different, a few extra pounds?” His uncle replied, “yep!” with a little smile.
We saw the room he slept in and I saw all of these pictures that my mother in law gave him and other greeting cards and notes. It struck me, even if he can’t communicate all the time, he is still aware of who his family and friends are. He probably is in high anticipation to receive any sort of mail or a visit. Yet, we forget. All the people in that nursing facility just want to be remembered. It broke my heart, that many patients do not have one visitor come for them. They sit and watch their television or put together the same puzzle, everyday. Society leads us to use email, texts or Facebook to communicate with everyone, rejecting true interaction. When what we need is to remember the forgotten with a visit, a phone call, cards and letters. Who wouldn’t want a card in the mail and know someone is thinking of us?
That visit to that nursing facility taught me several things.
To remember what Jesus did for us and to daily seek a relationship with Him.
To make relationships be the priority, not daily time wastes .
Make people feel like they matter. Encourage and love one another.
Cards may not be cheap anymore (yikes! But yeah for Trader Joe’s and dollar stores!) but it sure puts a smile on one’s face to receive one.
“Dear Heavenly Father, help us remember the important things in life. Let it become a habit to reach out and remember family and friends. Let us not feel burdened but to let it fill our hearts. I thank you that you remember us all the time. Restore our hearts, so we can act in love. In Jesus’ Name…AMEN!”