"Lessons from a Nursing Home"
(By Caitlin Brown)

5-22-2014 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #780

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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week [“SOW Seeds”].

This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Patije

Story of the Week
Lessons from a Nursing Home
(By Caitlin Brown)

One chilly autumn day when I was ten, my mom took my siblings and me to visit our great aunt in a local nursing home. As we entered the building, the smell of watery soup, mashed potatoes, and cleaning solution filled our nostrils.

My siblings and I looked warily around the room, a large common area with a braided rug, wilting potted plants, and an old coffeemaker. Elderly residents napped in wheelchairs around the perimeter, and the only noise came from an old television.

We started as an old man to our left started muttering in his sleep. An ancient woman wrapped in a yellow quilt clutched a plastic baby in her arms, singing a lullaby as if it were a real infant. Another woman stared into space with beady black eyes, nibbling on her bony fingers with toothless gums.

We gingerly made our way across the room and found our aunt asleep in an overstuffed armchair. My mom decided not to wake her, and my siblings and I breathed a silent sigh of relief. Now we could get out of this creepy room and away from all the strange old people! But then a voice sounded from our right.

"Sweetie, you have such pretty hair," said a little old lady to my six-year-old sister. "You remind me of my granddaughter."

"Oh, look at the kids!" exclaimed a woman with long white hair. "Aren't they sweet?"

One by one, the elderly people noticed us, rolled their wheelchairs closer, and greeted us cheerfully. Surprised, but not as frightened as before, we introduced ourselves and answered the many questions asked by the eager seniors. They wanted to know all about us: our names, ages, grades, and hobbies. We met Ethel, a frail woman who loved talking about her three grandchildren. Mary, a crusty but good-natured soul, made sure we all had a chair to sit in. Rose still remembered all the recipes she used to cook, and told us what it was like to be a teenager more than half a century ago. My siblings and I left the nursing home feeling like we had just made a dozen new friends.

We visited the nursing home several times after that, sometimes bringing homemade cookies or muffins, sometimes just dropping in to say "hi. " Many of the seniors loved to talk and were thrilled to have so many listeners. My younger sister befriended the lady with the doll, whose name was Caroline. She was a sweet old lady who loved children and had a huge doll collection from when she was young.

We also made a surprising discovery ­ the old ladies loved playing beach ball! The nursing home staff taught us to stand five feet away from an old woman's wheelchair and toss an inflated beach ball right at her. To our surprise, all the ladies in the home loved to bat the ball away with their hands, feet, and even heads! They could spend hours playing catch with us ­ we wore ourselves out from throwing the bball long before they tired of playing!

All these events helped me realize that underneath all those wrinkles, crooked backs and missing teeth, these ladies were just ordinary, friendly people. Although they looked different from me, on the inside we were very much the same. Despite my first impression, they weren't crazy or scary or strange ­ in fact, they had the same feelings, worries, and hopes as normal people. Just like me, they liked to laugh, talk, and make crafts. And, like me, they wanted to be loved, and to know that somebody cared about them.

The nursing home taught me that appearances are often only skin deep, and that with an open mind and a caring heart, you can discover the beautiful person inside.

Pastor's Quote of the Week
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.

(From: Mark Twain )

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        The eldest of us are still but precious infants in Your eyes.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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