Missing The Little One
I started playing the music. Playing music the same way I do week after week, when suddenly she began to cry. Buela. Buela, whose front teeth click up and down and her eyes watery and mattery and her body soft and large and long-ago failing and usually she smiles and giggles but today she’s crying.
And then there’s Cara. Cara, who is searching for her dead husband. Cara who thinks that he’s somewhere if she can just look hard enough; maybe he’ll come back, maybe if I keep looking; keep searching.
Kathleen wants to go to sleep. Her bed beacons and calls and her eyes are heavy but if I can come up with just the right song, just the right hymn, her eyes get sparkly and she sings. She leans her head into mine and we are cheek to cheek and we are harmonizing.
John is reading Redbook magazine. He doesn’t like me much but he comes. Every week he comes. I suppose they make him.
Mary’s front teeth don’t click because she doesn’t have any and occasionally she growls at me and she once tried to eat an egg shaker and I’m pretty certain that killing a resident would’ve been frowned upon but Mariam whose 92 and thinks she’s 72 started pointing and hollering and we were able to save Mary.
Mariam will ask me the same questions over and over; minute after minute. All about my children. About my husband (I don’t have heart to break the news, plus she will forget the minute I tell her,) but she always remembers Emma Claire. She loves Emma Claire and if I don’t bring her along, she always says, “Where’s your little one? Tell your little one we missed her.”
Tell your little one, we missed her. I’m 92 and think I’m 72 but that your child of yours; perhaps that child that I never had, that child that I never got to see, that child that I longed for….yes, that child of yours, tell her that we missed her.
Lottie is loud. She is beautiful, or at least you can tell she once was, and she is cranky and you can tell that she probably always was. She loves music and she doesn’t think I’m very good. “That doesn’t have a beat!” She’ll tell me. “The fox trot is 6/8, the waltz is 3/4, but this! This is terrible!”
And then she’s lost so I wheel her back to her room and I bump into the wall and I bump into her bed and she turns to me and says with complete sincerity, “You need to go back to driver’s ed!”
She doesn’t remember that she lives there. She doesn’t remember her room, but she knows I need a lesson in driving.
And I smile. And they all make me smile.
Widows and orphans.
My mom started taking us to the visit the elderly from the time we were little. It’s something we’ve always done. Singing, bringing bread, having awkward conversations. She has lived the example of seeing Jesus in the widows and seeing Jesus in the orphans and these friends of mine. They are both. They are the widows and the orphans.
I should tell you that I get paid to do this. It is my job. But really, I shouldn’t. I should be doing this just because it needs doing.
Last week I grabbed the soundtrack for the “First Wives Club” and played “I’m Still Standing.” It was just random, I didn’t really choose it, I just pushed play. And then I started listening to the words and I thought, “good grief! I’m staring at a room full of wheel-chair bound widows and we’re shaking maracas to “I’m Still Standing.”
I think the humor was lost on them. At least I hope it was.
This is Advent. The season of waiting. Waiting for renewal; waiting for a promise; waiting for a Savior. And I look at Cara whose waiting for her husband and Lottie whose waiting for a chance to dance the fox trot just one more time and Kathleen whose waiting for a nap and they are sitting in these chairs and in this place and they are waiting.
They are the lost; the forgotten; the rejected. They are us. Missing the Little One and waiting for our Savior.
Oh my tears:-/ I love elderly people too but there is a sadness about being old. Have you read Billy Graham’s book Nearing Home? He is so honest and sincere about the struggles he endures as a 94 year old….