The transition from living in your own home and directing every aspect of your life to being confined to a wheelchair and being dependent on others for everything, is a traumatic change.
Five months after Mother's 91st birthday my mother fell and this one single incident changed Mother's life.
She was in the hospital for months and then moved to a nursing facility. We knew she would never go home again and then came the day when she too knew it. When I visited my mother I recognized she was putting up a brave front, yet I knew inwardly she was questioning her own value.
She was completely helpless, confined to a bed unless someone moved her to a wheelchair. The sinks were not even set up for wheelchairs so she had difficulty even brushing her own teeth. Closets held her clothing up high, as if she had elastic arms. Her legs would barely respond to lift or shift and her conversations indicated she felt as useless as those legs.
Mother was wondering why she was still on this earth. Four infections had drained her to the point where she no longer read or did crossword puzzles or played cards with herself. Wishing to stimulate her interest in something I asked her if I could read a short story to her. She nodded her consent and laid her head back on the pillow.
I told her the story of The Patient...
* * *
The Patient was bedridden and only able to chat a bit and smile. All the nurses looked forward to going into The Patient's room because they were overworked, tired and in need of something -- perhaps the milk of human kindness.
In The Patient's room they fed on the warmth of the smile they received. Each person was uplifted by the good cheer, gentle words, and by the abundant and concerned thoughtfulness of this one senior Patient.
There were some in the hospital who yelled and whined. There were some who cried and others who literally abused the staff with slapping, biting and harsh words, but not The Patient.
No, when the staff entered the room of The Patient it was as if they knew they would find sanctuary! All understood, in this room, with this one Patient, they would always be uplifted.
Cleaning staff, nurses, even doctors fed on the endless supply of benevolence dished out by The Patient, and The Patient, in turn, seemed to understand how very valuable this kind of service was to everyone. The Patient understood her calling, and realized she was needed!
* * *
As I finished telling the story, a light seemed to go on within mother, and she exclaimed, "Goodness, the staff here all say they like coming into my room because I am so cheerful. I never thought about the impact of it before."
It was as if a heavy load had lifted from Mother's shoulders and she looked more relaxed than she had in a long time.
Mother's children have always known she blesses many lives with her loving disposition. How wonderful for mother to now understand her actions make a big difference and her very presence is a gift to many.
Now and then I have heard a saying "grow where you are planted." It dawned on me that mother was growing in a new way. God impressed upon me to tell Mother the story of The Patient and I realized immediately this was indeed the answer to helping her understand her worth.