Looking for something meaningful to do with your kids before school starts up again? How about visiting a nursing home or rest home in the area? There are lots of people living in our towns that are seldom seen…because they are in residential care. And sadly, out of sight often means out of mind. But the elderly that live in these local homes would love to have friendly faces stop in. You can simply hold a hand, ask some questions, or leave a card that shows you care. Just spread good cheer!
If this is something you haven’t done before, it may be a bit uncomfortable at first. I think it helps to consider what those you’re visiting may be thinking. Are they lonely? Are they depressed? Are they just praying for someone to talk with? Even if their body is bent and their mind is fading, they are of immense value… because they are a person made in the image of God.
Here’s a poem written from the perspective of an elderly lady in a nursing home.
Crabbit Old Woman
What do you see nurses, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you are looking at me –
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice – “I do wish you’d try”.
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, unresisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you are thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you are not looking at ME.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I use at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet;
A bride soon at twenty – my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep;
At twenty-five now I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure, happy home;
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last;
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone.
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty once more babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me,
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel –
Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart;
But inside this old carcass a young girl still swells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few – gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer – see ME!
When you go visiting this week, think about the dark days that they are now enduring. Spend a few moments of your time spreading some light, some hope, some cheer. They’re worth our time!
“Inside this old carcass, a young girl still swells… look closer – see ME!”