Friday, January 18, 2008

The Circle of Life

I want to steal away for a visit with LuLu tomorrow. (She is my 101 year old grandmother.) The house needs cleaning, laundry is in piles and I have work to catch up on. But I suspect there will always be the pressing matters that would divert our attention from what’s truly important. When I point my car to Alabama for this monthly jaunt, I feel like I am truly going back in time. Probably because LuLu can tell me stories like no one else can – like the tale of the uncle that helped save the town of Elba from Union attack. Yes, she remembers knowing someone who fought in the Civil War! And yes, I hear the same stories repeated many times. But it’s sweet. I used to think it was depressing to visit nursing homes or assisted living places. I’m not sure what changed in me that erased that feeling. (Probably having a dear one who lives there.) Now I think the residents of these places are treasures. I could volunteer for hospice or in the kindergarten and feel just as comfortable in either setting. The old and infirm are indeed making the cycle back into childhood and have much in common with the 5 year olds.

Down the hall from LuLu lives the woman who was her best friend for a t least 30 years. Ouida has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t even recognize her own children anymore. She happily carries around a baby doll and bounces it on her knees. But to my amazement, when I sit down at the piano and crank out the old hymns, she can sing right along. The words must flow out of a deep well in her spirit and she directs an imaginary choir joyfully with her hands. What medical text could explain why she can’t remember her own name but can sing all 4 verses to “Amazing Grace”?

So you see why I would rather make the trip to Alabama than check off more things on my “to do” list? I am richer for it.

2 comments:

A wife, a friend, and a nursing student said...

I think it is wonderful that you go and visit your grandmother monthly. It is amazing..when I would visit mother at the nursing home, there would be ladies like the one that is friends with your grandmother...they couldn't remember their own children, but they could remember hymns, and prayers. I am like you. I loved visiting with those people. I felt so blessed coming away from there.

hlstewart said...

I feel ya. I used to feel physically ill when our youth group visited a nursing home. Then my grandmother had to move to one a few years ago. There was no place I'd rather visit.

My mom always taught me that you make home wherever you are. And that's exactly what we did. Hung curtains, a wall of pictures of everyone in the family, tiny fridge and baskets of fruit. It was home.

One of my fondest memories, that is making me tear up just thinking about, is just a week before my grandmother became deathly ill. My husband, myself and punkin were visiting one Saturday afternoon last September and we were all really sleepy. Finally we all found a spot and sacked out. My grandmother was so happy to have us all there, just sleeping and acting like it was home.

She went home to be with the Lord just two weeks later. I wouldn't trade anything in the world for that memory.

Sorry for the long comment! It struck a cord since she just passed away last October 1.