Although the Legacy Picnic is over, we can still keep the friendship and fun going for our resident friends all year long.
This is especially important for those residents who are a bit younger or healthier and more able to participate in activities. Not all nursing home residents are frail elderly; in fact, about 15% of them are younger than 65. Let me tell you about one of them:[blockquote size=”third” align=”left” byline=”Luke 14:12-14″]Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”[/blockquote]Karen is the youngest resident in her facility. She is only 49 years old, but has a rare medical condition for which she requires 24/7 nursing care. When I visit her, amidst her sobs, she chokes out her story to me. She bravely copes with the prospect of living out all her remaining years in a nursing home.
She has suffered so many losses even before entering the nursing home: her beloved brother, her best friend (who was also disabled) and her father. She is sweet and fun and compassionate so she makes friends easily among the residents – but many of her friends have already died. This leaves her grieving over and over again.
Once a month, a group of us gather for a party at Karen’s nursing home, so that she has people of her own age to hang out with. We sit around a large table and eat and play games and talk and laugh lots. We welcome other residents to join us, too. And we invite the staff to join us on their breaks and help themselves to food and drinks.
Last month as we were leaving, tears welled up in Karen’s eyes as she thanked us. “You don’t know how much this means to me that you all come here.”
Yes, Karen, we do know. We know how important it is that you feel encircled by love and friendship. We know how you long for friends and for a feeling of connection and belonging. We would love to be able to relieve all your suffering and pain, but we give you what we can now – our listening and our love, our prayers and our presence.