When I was growing up in Oregon, our Nazarene church was next door to a nursing home. We used to walk over at different times of the year and sing for the residents and visit with them. I remember it being a little emotional, as the place was kind of dark and smelled funny, and the elderly people didn't always smile much. I always felt sad going in, and nervous of what I might feel as I looked at the sick, lonely faces. But I always left with happiness because we had brightened up their day just a bit.
My friend Kathy has a mother who lives in a nursing home here not too far from our home. I try to get in to see her every so often, and she is always so glad to visit.
I love to bring a little one or two with me. Or three or four, depending on the day. Some of the residents will crane their necks to catch a peek at a young face and body. (Not mine, my children's!) And they reach out, with a sweet, faraway look in their eyes. Maybe they are thinking of their own children or grandchildren, or remembering their childhood.
Although I still get that nervous feeling of 'what if I cry when I look at some of the people here?', I love going. These people have whole lives of stories of all kinds of lessons learned. They have family and friends, many of them. They have wisdom and pain and strength and they are way beyond caring what others think of them.
Kathy's mother is Miss Joan. My little ones call her Mrs. Jones, because they heard wrong. We've corrected them, but they still say it that way. It's cute.
Joan has a thick New Jersey accent, and a lot of spunk. She loves hugs and her weekly day out to WalMart!
Here are Sarah, Emma, and our friend Lizzie with 'Mrs. Jones'.