Monday, April 06, 2009

Hello in There


Every couple of weeks or so I go the Brian Care Center in Powder Springs to visit my great Aunt Lillie. The center does the best it can, but it isn’t an upscale nursing home by any means...though it seems like even when they're good, nursing homes can’t be a great place to be. The facts are, it’s a hard place for me to go - and on the other end, and it’s a hard place for me to leave. My visits usually end in tears streaming down my face all the way home. The tears are for many reasons: the loss of the person you once were, your memory, your loved ones, your status in life, freedoms, abilities, privacy and health. I guess if you stop and think about it, what’s not to cry about! Except the fact that Aunt Lillie accepts what she has - she laughs, and doesn't complain, ever! These are life lessons that I am learning from her with every visit I make to the nursing home.

Yesterday my Mom, Uncle Kenneth, Steve and his dog Sprout came to see Aunt Lillie, bringing with them gifts and memories of family to share.

I brought a small picnic for us to enjoy, while we visited outside in the sunshine. There isn’t much room in her small quarters, so I was grateful for the good weather, even if the air was heavy with springtime pollen.

Lillie was overwhelmed with the company and many beautiful gifts. I know she couldn’t wait to get back into those boxes when everybody left and she was free of social responsibilities so she could indulge.

We gave her moments of joy, I’m sure, yet I could see in her face the struggle to hide personal physical problems and memory problems that she was trying to cover up. She worked hard to be her old self, always covering her confusion with a smile on her sweet face.

Yesterday was a good day, yet also sad...after all, I also got to see my lovely Mother, Uncle and Steve…but it took a turn when I walked past Leonard’s room. I wanted to introduce him to Mom and found his name missing from the name slot at the side of the door. Do you remember Leonard? I wrote his remarkable story a while back (http://familychatterbox.blogspot.com/2008/06/giving-half-of-all-you-have.html). I found Leonard gone, someone else in his bed, and all I know is that Heaven has another saint added to its number and that the world has lost a good and Godly citizen.

I write this just to make you aware of the place where we could also be, tomorrow. To remind you to look at the elderly and know someone is inside longing to be recognized. There is a song that comes to mind that I want to share…

Y'know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say,
"Hello in there, hello."

So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care; say,
"Hello in there, hello."

Goodbye, Leonard. Thank you for sharing half of all you had with me. I will never forget it. mpc

P.S. The last time I saw Leonard, maybe two or three weeks ago, he was quietly laying in bed listening to old church hymns on a tape player/radio beside his bed. I started singing, softly to the music and he joined me, looking me straight in the eyes. After a few bars I asked how he was and he said, "I'm just ready to go home. Thank you for coming by."

4 comments:

juju said...

Oh, Merry, What a way you have to put to words what you see and feel. I am thankful for Leonard and for Aunt Lillie. They are from the greatest generation and there is so much we need to learn from from them.
We need so much of what they have. Thank you for sharing this emotional, but true blog.

Queenie said...

Beautifully written, Merry. You are a true Artist, a Journalist.
I appreciate so much your ability
to tell it just as it happened,
makes you feel like you were there.
I was there, but just a little late
to meet Leonard. I felt your pain
when you saw his name gone from the
door.
Guess we will never know how it happened.
What a wonderful day we had, you
make it so perfect for us all.
Thanks, Mother

Anonymous said...

Niece: Thank you for sharing and for all you do for our Dear One. If only we could learn to be as accepting as she - that is, all except about her car being taken away. It was a good day - we all were blessed...........Uncle

Kate said...

Mom,

So well written. Thank you for sharing these insights and raw feelings with us. You have such a hungry heart.

I love you,
K