Some call them alternative housing or assisted living places. Some are called nursing homes. I’ve only been in a couple…and it seems they are mostly like any other home, they differ. It takes special people to work there, gifted in ways most of us are not and the last thing one wants to think about, other than that other thing we don’t like to think about is having a loved one or even ourselves living there. But it happens.
Mom and I visited one the other day. Mom’s eighty eight and she wanted to give an old friend a “warmer” to put on her bed. I have no idea how old the old friend was, probably not eighty eight. We’ve been lucky. “You know, she may not recognize me this time, she was coming and going the last time I visited.” Mom said. “Well, that’s ok, I said, I’m sure she’ll enjoy the warmer anyway.” I waited in the lobby and browsed through some photo albums while she went down the hall. The pictures showed a happy staff who looked like a great bunch of folks even though they stared death and her “handmaidens” in the face every day. After twenty minutes or so mom came back with a smile on her face and I asked, “Well, did she remember you?” “No, she said, but I could tell she was trying hard.” (I guess that was enough for mom.) “I’m sure she’ll enjoy the warmer.” “Yeah, I said, wonder where she was today?” “She seemed happy” was all mom would say. “That’s good.”
Years ago, at a local church, there was a greeter. He could always be found standing out front prior to the service and whenever you showed up, whether seven days or seven years since your last appearance, he would say, “Thank you, thank you for coming.” He was a short little fellow with a great memory, a widower with a big Sunday morning grin each time you entered the vestibule of the church. “Thank you, thank you for coming” he would say, as if your simple act of walking in the door was the most important event that had taken place at that church in years... equal to a visit by the Pope perhaps or maybe Billy Graham.
He seemed really happy to be able to say “thank you” each time someone entered. A few years ago a friend and I went to see him in his nursing home after he’d had a series of strokes. We asked for his room and the attendant showed us down the hall. We both had misgivings about the visit, I hadn’t been to church in years, and a walk down “guilt trip lane” was just not something I was into that evening. As we got closer to his room I felt the walls closing in, as they say, but my friend helped me take a few more steps. Then there we were, face to face with this wonderful little fellow who had made us feel at home each time we visited the church. I didn’t think he would remember me but he did, or so I thought, and as soon as I entered his room he looked up from his wheelchair and said, “Thank you, thank you for coming!” I felt relieved and grateful he had remembered this old sinner from a few years back. I started to mumble something about “how are you” or some such and then he said it again, “Thank you, thank you for coming” and I realized those were the only words left for him to remember, six simple words that had meant so much to the people attending his church.
We stayed only a short while and left with tears as the echo of his greeting followed us down the hall. “Thank you, thank you for coming.” I wondered where he was that day and thought about all the memories and words he could have been left with in the home. He may have been luckier than we know, forever the greeter, “thank you, thank you for coming”.
Monday, December 6, 2010
It is that time of year again, “the holidays”, and let’s face it…they started with Thanksgiving. From now until “Superbowl Sunday” no meaningful work will be done by anyone except those who consider work life and life work. I suppose I’m one of those but I do enjoy the reward that comes as a result of me doing my life’s work. In other words, if I won the lottery, I would still do what I do…well for a few hours anyway. Still, when this season arrives, as my wife would say, to quote Strother Martin in “Cool Hand Luke”, “you gonna get your mind right!” Well, I’ve had thirty years to get my mind right and still find myself in the “ hot box” cause “what we have here is…”failure to communicate”.
Posted by Whitney B. at 6:47 AM