One sings in her wheelchair as she is pushed along the halls, mostly Que Sara, Que Sara, sometimes Amazing Grace. She has an amazingly strong voice. We try to meet all their faces as we pass, and say hello and smile. You have the sense of wanting to give them back their humanity in this land of the seemingly lonely and forgotten.
When I first started to do the nursing home thing again, I recoiled. It felt like the Land of the Lost. My friend calls it the Roach Motel. You check in but you don't check out.
Where my Uncle is staying there is a gentleman there who insists that he will get to Heaven by train. When my Aunt sees him, he makes the announcement, "I have my ticket, I am leaving today at three o'clock." Hey I kind of like that idea, like going to Heaven on the Hogwart's Express! One lady, mutters constantly...."I don't know what the hell I am doing in this place." Once she never stepped out of her house looking anything less than dressed to the nines with hair perfectly styled. Now my Aunt says she looks like a street person. Unrecognizable as the woman she once was.
They give these places fancy sounding names like "Rehabilitation Center" "Care Centers" "Guest Homes."
I have to say, now that I have been "doing the circuit" again, there is something else that is clear to me. It is not all hopeless. I walk past rooms that are decorated in pictures from home, their pets, Scripture verses, shelves of books, colorful quilts in bright colors.
All in all, I have made up my mind that you die the way you lived.
If you are positive when you were young, you will be positive all the way to the end. Unless you don't have your mind, that is. Then it's different.
I walk along the halls and see signs of life and hope, and see signs up giving up.
It all comes down to life and death in the end.
I am determined that I will choose life no matter what. That is the hope I have in Jesus. That is the hope that Henry has. Elaine met him walking the halls. They got to talking and he told her he comes from a long line of ministers. He told her with a sparkle in his eye, "Today I am reading the book of Numbers!"
If I ever end up in one of these places I want to be like Henry.
Or the guy waiting for my three o clock train to Heaven.
And honestly, sometimes it doesn't sound too bad. No responsibilies, a shelf full of books, three square meals....I just really hope that I can keep my eyesight and my mind.
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love." Romans 8:38