Saturday, June 28, 2008

Giving half of all you have

Happy occasion that it was, I cried all the way home from the nursing home today. Let me explain...

My Great Aunt, Lillie Turney, lives at Brian Center Nursing Home in Austell, GA. Since most of her family lives far away, I try to visit her every two or three weeks. I have done this for several years now and it seems that each time I go I get acquainted with more of the other residents. It is getting harder and harder to leave as those residents recognize my face and each expects a visit before I go. My heart is pulled from person to person, feeling their loneliness and the need of each one for a personal touch. I sense that they have lived out their lives, yet somehow they have some life left over, so they wait, not remembering the past, not knowing what to do with the present and frightened of the future. Every time I go, it gets sadder for me. I know them by name, especially; Betty, James, Bobby, Katherine, Claire, Susan, Edna, Ethel- May and mostly I've gotten really close to Aunt Lillie. She tries to be happy when I come, she never complains, but I see the sadness in her eyes that she tries to cover up with a, "I sure do appreciate all you do for me.", whether I do anything or not.

Today I went to celebrate her 92nd birthday with her. I came in, just before lunch was served, singing Happy Birthday, with cake, gifts and camera in hand. Look at the above video... Did she know it was her birthday? Did she even know who I was?... I don't know, and I guess it doesn't much matter; what matters is that someone knew it was her birthday and thought it was worth celebrating.

Aunt Lillie acted pleased. We put the candles on the cake together, while others around us waited for their lunch and looked on with envy. She opened up the necklaces I brought her and put all three around her neck at the same time...then the whole point of this blog happened...

I pulled up a chair to the table with Lillie and her table partner, Katherine (Katherine sort of reminds me of Maude, from the TV show). I suggested that they start their lunch and said I would just get a cup of coffee and sit with them, and then we could cut and pass out the cake (I had brought paper plates and plastic forks enough to serve others). A gentleman (who looked very much like Billy Graham) was at the coffee container, so I sat down, waiting for him to finish, before going to get a cup of the luke warm brew. A good five minutes later, he wheeled himself over to our table and offered me a cup of coffee with sugar, sweetener and creamer wadded up in the palm of one hand. I was so touched that I hardly knew what to say, except what a nice thing for him to do for me. He said he had heard that I wanted some coffee and that was the least he could do. Then I asked him his name. When he told me it was Leonard, I couldn't help the tears that popped into my eyes. I told him that was my father's name, I was touched, it was an honor to meet him and my name was Merry. He said he had a daughter named Mary...Well, that wasn't all I found out about Leonard. He was a missionary for many years and later in life became a Baptist preacher. When his lunch came, he slowly went over to his table and brought his plate back to ours. Quietly he sat, while I talked to the ladies and paid some attention to Aunt Lillie. The next thing I knew, Leonard put half of his lunch on a small bread plate and placed it in front of me. Half of his piece of cold baked chicken, half of his half of a baked sweet potato, half of his salt-free green beans, half of his dinner roll and half of his peanutbutter cookie. It was like the widow's mite, the Olivers' generosity, the angels saying, "well done, Merry". It was the sweetest offering of friendship I think I have ever had. That man who seemed to have no future left, touched my life and I will never forget him. It was so befitting that his name is Leonard.

Aunt Lillie wasn't having such a good day. She was having some pretty serious tummy problems. She excused herself and after a few minutes I went to check on her. She didn't feel like coming back to the lunch room, so I told her I would go and serve her cake to anyone that was left and would then bring it back to serve her and her neighbors.

Leonard was gone, so I took him a piece of cake to his room, where I found him reading. He smiled with delight and asked for a hug. It was a hug in Christ.

I will visit this gentle man again and I will pass on what he taught me today. You can make a difference, no matter what your circumstances. Lillie has taught me how to laugh when it's all there is left to do...and Leonard taught me to give half of all I have.


Queenie said...

This is by far the sweetest blog
you have ever written. I pray that
God blesses you real good for beng
so giving to the people who are so
lonely and alone.
Oh how I wish I could go see her
more Thank you darling, your crown
will be full of ruby's diamond's
and emerald's
My, I love you,

Queenie said...

Reminds me of a prayer that Ann
Weems said kneeling in Jerusalem
Oh God, we pray today

For all who have a sing they cannot sing:
For all who have a burden they cannot bear:
For all who live in chains they
cannot break:
For all who wander homeless and
cannot return;
For all who are sick and for those
who tend them:
For all who wait for loved ones
and wait in vain:
For all who live in hunger and for
those who share their bread
For all tho are misunderstood, and
for those who misunderstand:
For all who are captive and for those who are captors.
For all whose words of love are
locked within their hearts, and for those who yearn to hear those words.
Have mercy upon these, Oh God,
even me.
Have mercy upon us all.

juju said...

I always knew your ministry was for the elderly. God showed you that today. What a blessing you and Leonard had. Also blessed are those who read this blog.

family said...

"My dear niece....I agree with all that Gwen and Judy said; cannot say much more, but what a beautiful, tender experience you had today; and how you blessed some who seem, so often, to go unblessed. After reading this, I went back to reread it, and, only then, noticed that I could "click" the first picture, so I got to hear you sing "Happy Birthday" to Aunt Lillie, and got to her her sweet, soft voice say "Thank You." God bless you for your ministry to Aunt Lillie and to the others in the nursing home.
I love you...........Uncle"

I read your blog, as I do every day or two, and tried to leave a comment, but, somehow, Google doesn't recognize what I have written down [on my list of hundreds of names and passwords] for my Google name and I just copied my comment to this email.

To Mom, Judy and Uncle...

I was overwhelmed this morning at your sweet comments. Thank you, it was just something given to me that I had to share. (Something that I have yet to stop crying about.) You see, it's hard for me to go to that nursing home and I put off going, but if I am faithful, this is what happens...I am the one blessed. If we listen to our Father, live what He has taught us, great is the reward.
It's nothing new for the Floyd family; I learned it from them by example (and that includes all of you!).

Now if somebody could just help Uncle get a gmail account, with a password, so he can leave comments...I would appreciate it! I always wondered why he didn't leave comments on keepingintouch and queentalks.

family said...

I was so touched by your entry. What it taught me was that perhaps we think these people are out of life, but Leonard was an example of how to live life through Christ's love--no matter what the situation or circumstance you are in. His ministry continues. And that is what our Lord teaches us to do. Strain forward and do not look back--keeping your eye on the prize of Christ Jesus. This blessed me today. Thank you, Mimi. Kim

family said...

i've just realized none of my comments have been posting (not that i've posted all that many, but there have been a few over the last several entries. none of which did i check to make sure they appeared.) i've just been re-instructed by kim, which will hopefully allow me to comment successfully. let me try to recreate my comment to this entry.

i always enjoy your thoughtful, heart-felt entries. clearly you put much of yourself into this blog, and it's always a joy to read when i make time to get to it. isn't it wonderful how the best blessings are those shared? clearly you, aunt lillie and leonard all had the chance to share blessings together. and those blessings came out of your faithfulness to making the visit. well done. add to that the fact that i'm sure all of those people appreciate your visits even more than you know. thank you for sharing with them and us. a nice start to the work week.


family said...

Kim, Tom...

I knew you would get it. Thank you for your comments.

Mama C

Kate said...

Beautiful, beautiful post, Mom. Thank you for sharing this story. Your writing is lovely, just like your heart.