Thursday, August 30, 2012

One Great Way To Make Someone's Day

         We complain a lot around here about a lack of parking places. I know of one place that always has good parking. I wish it didn't. I wish I had to circle around for 20 minutes in order to find a spot. I am speaking of the nursing home where Scott's grandmother lives. It is much too empty if you ask me. I shouldn't talk though. I am not there enough. But, I have decided to change that.

 Because what seems to be a small part of my day, ends up being a huge part of another person's day. 

     I have been thinking about this all afternoon. A moderate amount of effort on my part turns out to be life changing for my children and for those they connect with in that nursing home. 

Their small presence in that place sparks a flame. That flame warms a heart. That heart then feels loved. And that love brings peace. 

     We call our Grandma, "Frammy." Our visits always go the same.  Today was really sweet and paints a good picture of most of our visits there.

     We pile out of the van and go inside to find Frammy. There are various men and women in wheelchairs in the hallways sitting quietly. It never fails. When they see the kids their eyes light up. They sit up a little and watch them intently as we march by. Our kids always say hello to them and know many by name. Havensong is used to this routine and she hugs the ladies and fist bumps the men. It makes them SO HAPPY. I especially enjoy the men's reactions when this tiny little girl holds her little fist up to "pound it." Then she waves, blows kisses and yells, "Die!" (She can't say "Bye" properly.) 

     Today we went to Frammy's room and she passed around snacks for my kids. Havensong does not hug easily, but she instantly climbed up onto her great grandma's lap and got a back rub. Then they sat there on her bed, eating red licorice and peanut butter cookies while Frammy told them they were the loveliest children to ever breathe air. She told them they were beautiful and talented and EXQUISITE.  She told me I was such a good mother. She said they were lucky to have me and I was lucky to have them. Where else can you go and eat snacks while being affirmed for 30 minutes straight? NOWHERE! It's not gonna happen anywhere else. And Frammy isn't the only one who lavishes attention on my kids. Her roommate does, the nurses do, the other residents do. I leave there thinking, "Man, we are pretty darn amazing!" It's a great ego booster, let me tell you. 

      Chase knows to bring a quarter with him each time we visit. He always uses it, and today was no exception. We walked Frammy out to the courtyard to sit in the sun and get some fresh air. There is a rectangle area of cement surrounded by grass and trees. There are usually a few residents out there, if they are lucky enough to have someone visiting them. They can't go out alone, so only the ones with family or friends with them are outside.

 So here is what happens. It's so awesome....

     Chase stands at the edge of the cement and he tosses the quarter. As it lands, it spins in different directions. Then Havensong runs after it and tries to find it. She picks it up and brings it back to her brother. We do this for an hour or so. 

But this is the fabulous part: The residents watch this game so intently, you would think it was an Olympic event. They all try to guess where the quarter will land. They gasp when is flies unexpectedly into the dirt, knowing it will NEVER be found. They laugh when the baby puts her tiny foot on it to stop it from spinning and holds it there while Chase tries to pry it out from under her shoe. They watch over and over and over, as Chase tosses the quarter up. The sunlight catches the metal as it flies past them, and I swear I see the glimmer reflecting in their eyes. 

     "OH LOOK LOOK!" they exclaim as he throws it behind his back with finesse. When it goes missing they wring their hands. But he always finds it. Chase loves the undivided attention and tries to get a little trickier each time he throws it. 

Today he did the ol' "pretend to throw" trick and held the quarter behind his back as his sister went running to find it. The residents leaned forward to see where it went. He held it up and said, "SHHHH..." to them, with his finger pressed to his mouth. 

They were NOT amused! How dare he trick that precious baby?! They glared at him and shook their heads. He wasn't catching on to their frustration. I leaned over and told him he better cough up that quarter fast or he was going to have trouble on his hands. He still didn't understand. I pointed to their faces and said, "They are gonna run you down if you don't stop teasing your baby sister." He skipped over and gave her the quarter, much to their relief.

      After we walked Frammy back to her room we made a circle around the nursing home to wave goodbye to everyone. I stopped into the nurses station and told them how impressed I was with the staff. I have been in many state run nursing homes, but the Christian Health Care Center in Lynden is a cut above. They truly treat the residents with respect and care. Still, there is no replacement for that one on one connection. Nothing takes the place of eye contact and laughter. Everyone needs to know they matter. I am going to try my hardest to be there throughout each week. 

     Forgive me if I sound preachy. But would you consider making friends with an elderly person in a nursing home near you? It is easy to forget they are there because we can't see them. But they are there, and they need visitors. I promise it will bless you more than you can imagine. And your kids will feel like little champions in there. It's a win-win situation in the biggest way. It is a moderate amount of effort that yields maximum results.

 (And don't forget the quarter.)


  1. Awesome! So fun to read and a little to think about.

  2. As always...great reading. I can so appreciate this story due to the fact that I live in and manage and independent retirement home and get to experience and watch the joy families bring on a daily basis. Visit Frammy more..... :-)

  3. This reminds me of visiting my Granny when I was little. She wasn't a relation, but my mom adopted her through a program that connects seniors with younger people. We visited her regularly until she passed away when I was 13 or so. What a beautiful story!