Thursday, October 10, 2013

Seeing with new eyes {day 7}

When I was five years old, I often went to the nursing home with my mom to visit my grandmother. Strange, humped over people tried to touch me as we walked to my grandmother's room.

"Why do they do that?" I would ask.

"Because they like children," said my mom.

Her answer confused me. If they liked children, why were they doing something that frightened me? Don't they know that children don't like strangers trying to reach out and grab them? This did not make sense.

Once we arrived at my grandmother's room, I would usually talk with her roommate because grandmother just scowled and fussed. She didn't seem to know me. My mom would tell me that she didn't feel good. On the other hand, her cheerful roommate would  insisted that I take a piece of her candy. I would be excited  but it never tasted good.

"It's sugarless, diabetic candy, "  my mom would tell me. It was a strange place this nursing home.

For years, I stayed away from nursing homes. Those experiences left a bad taste in my mouth except that it cause me to admire friends who worked in them.

Last December, we toured a nursing home/rehab center. We hoped it would be a short-term stay and the last step to enable my father-in-law Clarence togo home.

Emotions flowed through me. Memories, thankfulness, and tension fought for the center stage of my heart.

I was thankful that my husband and mother-in-law were the ones making the decision. I was just with them. We were all thankful that Clarence was finally off the ventilator, laughing, talking, breathing. Yet, a transition to another facility caused us some angst. He had to leave the facility that he was at but he wasn't quite ready to come home. He was still at risk. Would this facility provide the care he needed for him to improve?

In the midst of this, the memories of those early childhood visits to the nursing home came back to me. I realized that I wasn't frightened any longer. The residents no longer seemed like strange, humped over people.

I saw them with new eyes. Even though I didn't know them, I saw them as people with stories, with history, with wisdom. They may not even be able to tell their stories anymore because they've lost the ability to communicate but I know, simply by their age, that they have walked a long path.

I knew this now because I no longer saw Clarence the same way. His outer appearance didn't truly reflect the man of integrity, determination, and faith that he is.

My children cried the first time they visited him because he didn't look like grandpa. It is hard to see a loved one suffer. But as the days wore on, and at times looked less like himself, I admired him more and more. His true character was not in his appearance.

As I walked through the halls of the nursing home last December, I realized that almost daily visits to the hospital for more than three months had changed me. I knew -- in a way that I didn't before -- that appearance does not equal character. 
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseens is eternal." II Corinthians 4: 17-18

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This is part of the 31 Day series: 
The Clarence Chronicles: Lessons of Faith from the ICU
Click HERE to read Day 1, which links to all the posts in this series.

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1 comment:

  1. "...For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseens is eternal."
    - Amen


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

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