Just a few minutes a day … April 16’ 2014 …
Walter Turner turned 85 years old today. Don’t know who he is? Neither did I one month ago. I know him now and count him as a friend. The two of us brought together by God’s mercy and impeccable timing. I’m not to sure he fully realized it was his birthday as I sat across from him in the Nursing home today. He sits in his recliner in the corner of the room nodding in and out of wakefulness as I speak a few words of encouragement to him. His wife, Martha, is there by his side as well, ever present regardless of when I visit. She says he hasn’t been doing to good lately and she thinks he has suffered several mini stokes this past week. She says they don’t call the doctor any more or rush him to the hospital when they occur. There is nothing else more that they can do for him she says. There is a sad quiet dignity in her voice and a resignation that is backed up by her softly spoken words to me that she is ready to let him go. She is suffering greatly and I can feel the anguish in her voice crying out. I move my chair closer to hers and we embrace and we both tear up as we pray that God’s timing will be merciful. She tells me in their quite talks together he talks of going home soon and wanting to leave. She knows the end is near but doesn’t understand the end game or why it lingers with such unknown purpose and pain. Neither do I but our view of life is so limited. God’s view is perfect and so far beyond our comprehension. All we can do is to keep loving and living but we do tire of life’s persistence when no purpose but suffering appears to be served. We do what we have always done our entire life. It’s all we know how to do so we continue to do it until the very end … loving and living with each other through the joy and the pain of life … even when it least resembles life. Walter is waken gently by the nurse and she reminds him that he should go to the bathroom and pee. He forgets to do that sometimes and he can’t often find the bathroom by himself when he remembers he has to pee. He manages to fend her off for now saying he is ok and doesn’t need the bathroom or want to be moved at the moment. She pulls up his blanket and gives him a loving pat on the shoulder as she departs. His eyes close again and his breathing returns to mostly sighing in and out. I place the Car Magazine I brought him next to all the Birthday cards on the table next to his bed. Martha thanks me for the gesture and smiles through the tears as she hugs me tightly as I say goodbye. I walk out of the room and over to another one just down the hall where Miss Lisa resides.
Miss Lisa has Alzheimer’s and is also around 80 years old. Last time I visited her she told me she likes to read romance novels so I had brought her a new one to read. As I entered the room she is not in her bed but her room mate is so I introduce myself to her and ask if she knew where Lisa was. She is a very small woman and very frail but dressed nicely and laying back on her bed pretty much staring off into space until my direct question to her about Lisa’s whereabouts sunk in. She is quick to respond that Lisa had family visit her today and they took her out of the Nursing home for the day. I asked her if she didn’t mind if I could instead visit with her for a little while. She said sure and I sat down on the bed beside her. Her name is Myrtle she said, she even spelled it for me, and I told her my name. Words are extremely hard to come by during these visits and I always pray in my car in the parking lot before going inside asking God to please give me the right words of encouragement to say and he always delivers. We start off talking about family. She says she has no one any more. Parents are dead and she is the last of 12 children. I disguise my tears as best I can but they well up in my eyes as I begin to tell her about my family. I succeed in fending off the tears and we begin to share a little about each other. Turns out we are both the youngest of all the kids in our respective family so we have something in common right away. She tells me she likes Women magazines and I promise to bring her one the next time I come. She says she may not be here next week or even tomorrow but I reassured her she will be and that I will be back. We continue our chat for several more minutes before I stand to depart. I’ve known her only for a few minutes but I can’t resist giving her a hug and she readily accepts it. She tells me she will tell Lisa that I came by and she will tell her about the romance book that I left. I said thanks and that I would see her again.
As I walked back out into the hallway on my way out I passed by so many more rooms. Each one filled with a life fully lived yet often forgotten or ignored by family and friends. Oh what joys and stories they have to tell about their lives. So much we could learn if we only took the time to ask and listen. I miss my Mom and Dad and they have been gone so long now. How I wish I would have taken the time to ask them about their lives, what they experienced and how they lived. Selfish I was at that time in my life and selfish no more I hope to be. I wish we all could give a few minutes of our day to someone else. Our time in this life is fleeting and finite … what greater gift is there that can be given to another than the gift of your time? I’m blessed to have the time to do so and I thank God for the courage to do it. It only takes a few minutes on any given day and it can be done anywhere anytime you decide to take the time.