Sunday, December 11, 2005

I've Turned to Mush

Today we went with the Children's Church group from our church, The Church of God of Prophey, Paris, TN. to the nursing home to sing Christmas carols. There were about 12 children and several adults who roamed the halls singing "Joy To The World" and "Away in a Manger." I made it fine out in the commons area, but when we went to the first room, I could not help it. I am such a softie. I broke down in tears.

You should have seen the look of joy on that elderly lady's face as those little ones sang their heart out for her. It was such a simple thing--a few children, a few songs, a few smiles. But I'm sure that made that lady, someone's grandma, very happy. It was probably the highlight of her year.

As I was out in the hall sobbing on my husband's shoulder, a nurse asked me if I was related to the lady. I shook my head no. She said, "Do you know her?" Again, I shook my head no. She said, "Honey, don't cry. She is nearly 100 years old. That is where we are all headed. She is fine." All I could manage to croak back was, "I know."

You see, the nurse did not know about my 86-year-old grandfather who is in the nursing home in Humboldt, Tennessee. This is his first year there. He's been there since September, what time he was not in the hospital next door. This has changed all of my family's lives, not just his. For all my 40 years we have celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas at his house with Granny. This year, he was in the Emergency Room with pneumonia. We will visit them at the nursing home for Christmas this year and for as many years as he has left. Time has changed the way we do Christmas.

This will be the first year in 40 years that I will not go back to my home church, Gregory's Chapel Assembly of God, for their Christmas program. It's not that some of my extended family won't be there. It's just that we are trying to lay roots for my son here in his hometown. I have to learn to let go sometime. My son needs his own traditions, memories of spending Christmas in his home church. I can't help but wish that he could relive my past Christmases, but I know that some things you just can't bring back.

Still, visiting the nursing home today brought back memories of me as a child visiting the Humboldt Manor nursing home. We used to go sing for them at least once a month. We took fruit baskets at Christmas. Now I put myself in those patients' shoes and realize what it must mean for them for someone to care. I put myself in my Grandpa's shoes. I hope that my home church is planning to visit and sing--even if they are a bit uncomfortable. Even if they, like me, can't help but cry. It is a ministry, and as much a blessing to me as it was to them. I'm sure they have seen it all in their lifetimes, but it is the soft song of a child that still makes them smile. That much will never change.

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