It seems that a feeble elderly woman, whose husband had died, went to live with her son and his wife and their young daughter. The woman’s sight was dimming, her hearing was growing worse and worse, and her hands were weak and trembly. Sometimes at dinner her hands shook so badly the peas rolled off her spoon or the soup spilled from her cup. The couple became annoyed at the way she spilled her food so one day when she spilled a glass of milk, they said that was enough.
They set up a small table in the corner of the kitchen next to the broom closet and let the lady eat alone at her private table. Sometimes her eyes would fill with tears but she wanted to please her loved ones. The family might speak to her while they ate, but it was usually to caution her not to spill something.
One evening just before supper, the young couple found their little girl playing on the floor with her building blocks, and the father asked what she was building.
“I’m building a little table for you and Mama,” she smiled proudly, “so you can eat by yourselves in the corner someday when I get big.”
The parents were startled and soon began to cry. As you might guess, that night they led the little grandmother back to her place at the big table, and from then on she ate with the family. Realizing they some day might be in the same condition, the son and his wife never seemed to mind a bit when Grandma spilled something every now and then.
The story is a lesson to us to set good examples for our kids, but it also serves to teach us that if we live long enough, we will all travel down similar roads.
My daddy lived with us for five years after suffering a severe stroke. We managed well with the help of home health aides and nurses. One day I commented to his nurse about how much I appreciated her being so understanding, caring, and patient with him. Her reply was, “I just always try to remember that someday I may be in the same condition, and I would want the same care and consideration.”
Like the couple in the story, the nurse realized her patients had crossed a bridge we all may cross one day and we truly need to do unto others as we would have them do to us.
I’m reminded of a time I took my aunt to an eye doctor in Tupelo. Her entire body was absolutely ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis. She was weak and frail, her fingers drawn. She walked with a walker, could hear only with the help of a hearing aid, and had lost one eye because the arthritis had dried and cracked the cornea.
Never being free of pain, my aunt had a tendency to grunt softly from time to time without realizing she could be heard. When the nurse finally called her name that day and we slowly made our way out of the waiting room, another patient (I won’t call her a lady) said, “Boy, I’m glad they called her back, that gruntin’ was getting’ on my nerves!”
I did take the time to explain the arthritis problem to the woman but what I really wanted to say was, “Fasten your seatbelt, dear, for in a few more years you may take a similar ride!”
Life is not easy – we learn a little more about that with each passing day. We tend to sympathize with young people and say we understand it’s “hard to grow up” and make the right decisions.
Then we realize it’s hard to grow older, too. Health issues, physical challenges, emotional ups and downs – where we belong, what we should do, and “who listens to us anyway?” – all questions we must come up with an answer for.
…And the only One who can bring us to the answer is our Creator. He had a plan for us in the beginning and His promise is to never leave us or forsake us – to carry us through to completion when He takes us home. That’s good news!