Maybe it’s always been there, and I’ve just missed it. Maybe I just happen to know some ultra-kind folks at the moment. Or maybe my own tired bones are making me more aware of how these people treat each other, and how sympathetically they respond when a neighbor suffers yet another physical setback – even when that setback disturbs their own fragile peace or comfort.
Here’s just one example: an elderly woman who was crying out in her sleep almost every night, often disrupting her roommate’s rest. The roommate was offered a bed in another room, but she decided to stay put; the sleep-talker couldn’t help it, she pointed out, and after all, she could always catch up on her own sleep during the day.
When I heard this, I couldn’t help but recall a dear friend who experienced such middle-of-the-night terrors some years ago. His neighbors complained bitterly about the racket. They didn’t care who it was or why he was crying out; they just wanted him to stop.
Today, there’s more compassion in evidence everywhere I look. And it’s a beautiful thing to see when, for instance, one old woman asks the same question repeatedly, and the folks nearby answer again and again, without even a trace of impatience in their voices. Or when, in a hymn sing, a severely disabled man struggles to help turn pages for the even worse-off fellow in the adjacent gerry chair. Or when a very with-it old gal goes out of her way to sing the praises of a tablemate’s sunny disposition, even though everyone knows that this tablemate is the victim of cognition-sapping dementia.
I suppose there’s an awful lot of “there but for the grace of God go I” thinking at work in this place – proving, once again, that there’s a ton of wisdom and love to be found in the halls of your local nursing home. If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll discover it for yourself just as soon as possible.