Friday, December 17, 2010

Tears of Sadness ~ Tears of Joy

Yesterday, we had our monthly visit to to a nearby Senior Center with some of our homeschooling friends. I was so thrilled that we had more families join us than we’ve had in months past. Over the course of the last year, attendance had been slowly dropping and we even had to cancel a few times because we didn’t have enough children. I know that visiting with seniors can sometimes be difficult. It can be hard to look at the ways that old age affects a person. When we see minds and bodies withering, we sometimes start to think about our own future. However, the Bible tells us that we are to look after orphans and widows in their distress. I have seen wrinkled faces light up joy when we bring our gaggle of children into the room. It is a wonderful thing!

As we arrived at the center, we were told by the Recreation Coordinator that one woman had been yearning to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas to a group of kids, so that was our first mission.

HPIM3450 Even though this woman read very s-l-o-w-l-y and the ten minute book dragged on to 25 minutes, I was amazed to see all of the children sitting quietly and listening intently. If you knew my Luna, you would have thought it was a miracle to see her sit still for so long, even as the aids were bringing out cookies to the tables behind them. It was as if the children, in their hearts, understood how very important this was to the woman.

At one point during the story, I walked around the room to quietly talk with some of the residents that were being brought in for cookie decorating. As I knelt down next the wheelchair of one woman, I noticed that her eyes were damp. “I’m so glad the children are here,” she told me. “I miss children.” At that point, the tears really started coming as she told me that she couldn’t go to the bathroom by herself anymore. She couldn’t just make a cup of coffee for herself when she wants it anymore. I didn’t know what to tell her, so I just held her hand as she told me of her sorrows. Yes, it was hard, it broke my heart. It is the part of visiting the elderly that takes strength. They are lonely. They miss the things of their younger years. They have failing minds and bodies. But, we can hold hands and listen. We can bring company, we can chat, and we can bring smiles, too.

After the story was finished, it was time to decorate cookies! There was laughing and frosting-smiles, visiting and sprinkles. The woman who was crying to me, was happily pouring a thick coating of sprinkles on her cookie. Then, the aids brought out chocolate, in honor of Dip Things in Chocolate day. (Who knew?)

HPIM3455 Everything is better with chocolate, right?

HPIM3453 After everyone was sufficiently hyped up on sugar, the kids started handing out their hand-made Christmas cards. Cue the tears of joy. It was lovely to see the elderly women as they were given a card, their faces radiated with thankful joy.

Before we left, Kaya had a couple of extra cards to hand out, so we walked the halls of the center looking for recipients. Our very last card was given to Miss Gina, a woman we had met on a previous visit. She is a sweet little Italian woman who has forgotten the English she once knew. Kaya and Luna walked up to her and handed her a card with a, “Merry Christmas!” said in unison. I will never forget Miss Gina’s reaction. In fact, I am tearing up just thinking about it. She burst into tears and started babbling on in Italian. I didn’t understand her words beyond, “Awwww!”, but I knew just what she was saying. She had the look that a Mother gets the first time their child says, “I love you.” Or when you are graced with a bouquet of hand-picked dandelions. Tears of joy, tears of gratitude…. Love.

Love.

If you have a nursing home nearby, call and ask about visiting sometime. You can bring some love and joy with just an hour of your time.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

6 comments:

religare72 said...

Fantastic story ! Again, you have a gift, m'dear, of writing. Well done. Chris Walker

Jessica said...

That made me boo hoo hoo!

<3

Jill Foley said...

My girls and I do this every month. We take our violins and play, but our favorite part is saying hi to all the residents before we leave. The home we go to is an alzheimer's and dementia care home, so they don't remember us from month to month. But it doesn't matter. There is one man who just bawls when my girls play their violins - it's heartbreaking, but sweet. It makes me wonder if the music is making him remember something.

I think interaction between the generations is so important for everyone. My girls truly enjoy this outreach, and I'm so glad it's not me dragging them there.

When I was young we "adopted" a woman in a nursing home and she was a big part of our lives. Now my own grandma, at 95, lives in a nursing home. I can't visit her since she lives 2000 miles away, but I can visit the people who live 2 miles away. And I can write to my grandma and Kevin's grandma every week - send them love that way.

Anyway, thanks for writing this....thanks for encouraging others. Wish we were "real life" friends and we could do some of this together.

The Burgess family said...

I LOVE that you do this kind of thing! I wish I was strong enough to do this, I've always had a hard time in these types of places, I'm not very extroverted. However I'd love to teach my kids better than me. My son just had a school choir concert in one of our local homes like this and it was by far the nicest place I've ever seen-- I want to live there myself, even now! It was a very pleasant and inviting atmosphere. So that helps, maybe I can find a group to go back with us sometime. Because yes, they really do miss children and it means a lot for them to get visitors. And I think that we and our children can benefit a lot from it too!

Teena said...

I heard a sermon once... that said "why is it that we separate the wisdom of the elderly and the energy of children... " I thought how true it is.... I know they must love seeing the children come and visit!

We have a nursing home about 30 mins away.... we went last yr with our hs group and haven't been back. :( So sad.

Thank you over and over for your words of encouragement....

also I love you sharing about the letters from your Compassion children.

Much love,
Teena

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

Thanks, Chris! I hope we see you this Christmas!

Jessica, I boohooed too! :sniff: I'm a big sap anyway!

Jill, I wish we could visit together, too! One of the residents told me that they has some girls come in and play violin recently, and I thought of you! I know what you mean about it being sweet AND sad....bittersweet.

Kit, it isn't easy for me, either. But it has been placed on my heart, so we follow through. I do feel some sadness, but mostly I focus on their joy and the smiles.

Teena, I think you should try to get a group together to go back. I had to sort of take charge with our group and start handling the scheduling and planning. As of now, we have a plan to go and visit on the third Thursday of every month. Some months, we have just a half dozen kids, but we go anyway. It is worth it and means SO much! :D

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