Monday, 14 September 2015

A tale of two gentlemen.

Most weeks I visit two gentlemen  at a local skilled nursing facility.

Both are in their seventies.

Both have chronic illnesses that restrict their mobility and freedom.

Both are devoted Christians.

Both have family members who visit them often.

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One is graciously resigned to his illness.  He, in a gentle  and uncomplaining  way,  has accepted his physical limitations.

He doesn't say much, so I try to regale him with stores of my recent activities, in an attempt to bring the world into his room.

I shared communion with him this morning, then with a cup of iced coffee in his hands, I wheeled him outside for a bit, to enjoy today's gorgeous weather.

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The other hates his illness.  He is utterly frustrated by his condition.  He is angry because he can no longer make decisions about the shape and journey of his life. He is no longer "in control":  others make decisions for him, and that's tough.

I share communion with him too, and we chat about this, that and the other.  He is quick on the uptake, and "gets" even the slightest inferences in what I say.  We have lively conversations.

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And I,  how will I be when a nursing home becomes my residence?

I will hate it, 'cause I love my independence and autonomy.

I wager that there will be a lot of inner grumbling and complaining on my part, if and when I become physically incapacitated,

But there'll be another side of me.

When I was a mid-teenager I kept up a respectful friendship with the woman who had been the Head Mistress of my first school, Miss Lucy Fenlon.  She told me that her earliest memories of me as a first and second grader was that I was so anxious to please others.

So I  bet that no nursing home staff will ever know that I am deeply pissed off.

I shall revert to being a first grader - and become utterly anxious to please.

Thus I will avoid the nursing home equivalent of  "John Povey, you stand in the corner until you can learn how to behave".

(Not that that ever happened to me in my school-days!).


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