Be The Good
I like to take small gifts when I go visit the sick or the elderly. Sometimes I take food, other times I take flowers. In honor of my cousin, Martha, who recently died from breast cancer her daughters hosted a “Be The Good Day” on December 4th which would have been her birthday. Martha often said “Every day isn’t a good day, but there is good in every day.” They challenged friends and family to do something for someone else and share it on social media with the hashtag #BeTheGood.
I decided I would take poinsettias to the nursing home. I purchased some and stopped at two different nursing homes where I knew some residents.
The first lady I visited is someone I once stopped by and visited on a regular basis. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been to see her in several months. Her health had deteriorated a great deal and she struggled to talk to me, but I could tell she was very happy I stopped by.
The next nursing home I visited I had three remaining flowers and I knew two residents. I went in search of one gentleman who once attended our church and now has advanced dementia. He didn’t know who I was but that didn’t matter. He knew I was talking to him and that he had a visitor and that was enough for him. The second lady is a former neighbor and the mother of a friend. Years ago she taught my children at Vacation Bible School. I saw her coming out of her room and she had the prettiest smile on her face.
“Miss Barbara,” I said, “you look so pretty. Have you had a good day today?”
Her smile got even bigger. “I had a great day today,” she said with so much conviction I knew that she meant it.
She accepted the flowers and card and that left me with one more flower. I asked the girls who worked there if there was a patient who didn’t receive many visitors. They said yes and took me to a room where a woman was sitting up in a chair. She was receiving oxygen through a nasal cannula and it was cocked sideways on her face. The nurse adjusted it and said, “This is Jane,” and left me alone with her.
Jane asked me if she knew me and I told her no, but that I had brought her a poinsettia and a card. I read her the card and by the time I was finished she was crying. “That’s just so beautiful and so is the flower. I can’t thank you enough.” I talked to her a few more minutes and promised myself that I would come back and see her again.
You see, I have a dirty little secret, I hate visiting nursing homes. They depress me. Seeing elderly people sleeping while sitting up and in some cases their bodies twisted and their minds gone makes me so sad I tell myself I can’t stand it. Then I don’t go back. I make up every excuse I can not to visit. When it came time to #BeTheGood, I knew where I needed to go.
What I Learned
Miss Barbara reminded me that you can have a good day no matter where you are or what you are doing. The lady named Jane and the others reminded me that something that seems very small and trivial to us, can be very big and important to someone who needs a friend.
It’s so easy to take for granted the freedom that good health gives us. It’s also easy to forget that nursing homes and hospitals are full of folks like Jane, who don’t get many visitors. It took a shopping cart of poinsettias and a gentle shove from Martha’s angel wings for me to see what matters most and it had nothing to do with the half decorated tree in my den, or the presents I haven’t purchased for people who don’t need anything anyway.
The surprise for me was that instead of me being the good in someone’s day, the nursing home residents became the good in mine.
Thank you, Martha. Happy Birthday in Heaven dear friend.
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