Lessons from the Nursing Home

It can be so easy to just take things for granted. Our friends, our family, our opportunities, our experience, our health.

Yesterday I spent several hours at a local nursing home, along with a group of friends from church. We showed up, walked around for a few minutes, met a bunch of the residents, and then settled into the lounge area by a wall piano to do some singing. A couple of hoarse voices, a roomful of smiling older folks, and an hour and a half or so later, we were done. We then walked around the room, greeting each of the residents. I made sure I shook everyone’s hand and while doing so, picked up a couple of compliments from the older ladies about my hair.. *grins*..

Many of the people there looked worn out. They’ve been through so much and now, their pace of life has changed. They just don’t have much to look forward to. Their families rarely visit, their opportunities are limited, and in many cases, their health is starting to fail.

But then there are the exceptions.. A few of the people there were just amazing. One older woman, sitting up near the front in her wheel chair, would clap happily for us after every song, and even sing along when she could. She would clap and clap, and then chide the others for not clapping with her. She’d do all that and if you didn’t look closely, you wouldn’t notice for the smile on her face and the enthuisastic clapping that she only had a stump on her left arm where her hand was once attached. She didn’t let that stop her :).

After leaving the lounge, we made our way down the halls to a little room near the back to visit an older woman named Peggy.

Peggy’s always been full of energy. One of the ladies in our visiting group knew Peggy from back when she was a little girl. She and her friends would go over to Peggy’s house and Peggy would gather them in the kitchen and bake cookies for them. If you hadn’t been there to see, you’d never know, that Peggy had lost the use of both her legs to Polio when she was pregnant with her first son. If you weren’t watching you wouldn’t have seen the determined look on her face as she’d prop her elbows up on the counter and lift herself up above her wheel chair so that she could bake.

When we talked in the room yesterday, Peggy was smiling brightly and sitting up as best as she could as we crowded around her bed. She was amazing to watch.. She’s hooked up to breathing devices and she’s been laying in bed there for over 14 years since her husband passed away, and yet.. she’s still happy! She has this great big smile on her face and this wide-awake look in her clear blue eyes. We greeted her and began sanging. By now, our throats were killing us, but it didn’t matter, the happy smile on her face made it all worth it.

To be able to go through all that, to have your freedom taken away and to be stuck in a small room for 14 years, yet to still be bright, cheerful, and smiling, is an amazing thing. It really makes me think about my attitude towards life. I have nothing to complain about. I’m young, I have the freedom to travel, I have soo many opportunities and I’ve met so many wonderful people who I’m able to stay in touch with. We all have so much. Many of us take the simple things for granted. The very fact that you’re reading this entry means you have something that many people do not; access to the internet.

Let’s not take the simple things for granted. Let’s be thankful for what we have and make the very best of it.

Have an awesome day!

-Jonathan Wold