Herald Journal Columns
February 26, 2007, Herald Journal

Loving the elderly


One of my fondest memories as a child was being around my grandparents. I loved going for walks and talks with my grandpa, hand-in-hand, or putting my fingers around the loop that was sewn on the side of his old fashioned bib overalls.

My discovery was that the elderly always took big steps while walking, but they were slow steps. I took many little steps, but they had to be fast to keep up.

It always averaged out to where we could keep up with each other.

My grandmothers were always good with baking home-made bread or coffee cake. The kitchen always smelled wonderful.

My grandparents were a joy to listen to, though it was a long ways up for my eyes to see them while they spoke. They always made sure that I learned something from them when I was with them.

They had very caring hearts, and they made me feel special at any given time thoughout the day.

As time went on, the roles reversed. I walked with big fast steps, and now they look up to see me speak.

Instead of them caring more so for me, I had to care and watch their safety for them.

However, none of that ever stopped the joy and laughs we shared together. What I thought to be caring wasn’t even a start to the underlining of what deep caring can be.

Eventually, we became their hands and feet for them.

We became their housekeepers, lawn caretakers, and every other aspect we never imagined possible.

We begin to realize there’s time involved, but we make every effort to be at their side to make things comfortable for them.

What matters most is that we put our Christian faith into practice. We need to keep in mind that we are spending our last days together.

We too will become old some day, some of us sooner than others. Besides my profession of working with the elderly everyday, I have also visited many nursing homes. This brings a new challenge to our attention, namely, focusing on the needs of our elderly in a dignified manner, remembering who they are as individual humans.

What always strikes me is the way the residents reach out for you, wordlessly begging you to take their hands, to talk to them, to treat them like they are special.

It doesn’t matter to the residents that you didn’t come to visit them. You don’t need to know them, and they don’t need to know you.

What matters to them, is that you are there.

Someone who is paralyzed can love with her eyes. Someone who is blind can love with his voice and his touch.

We need to touch the hearts of the elderly. In a short time, if your pay close attention, you will see a love shown back to you, in a way you never thought possible.

This is a rare and genuine, unspeakable human love, a true experience of what real love for each other as humans is all about.

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