A Miracle of Love

One morning as I was reading the newspaper, I came across an unusual advertisement. It read, “If you have time to share, a talent or skill, please visit our elderly residents. If anyone would like to share time with seniors, please call this number.”

I thought it would be an fun to teach those seniors some simple exercises After all, I had been a fitness trainer for years and had worked with people of many different age groups. I felt very qualified.

I called mama and suggested we respond to the ad. She was all for it. Mama was bored. She was tired of her daily routine of “doing nothing”, as she so eloquently described it.

She’d told me recently, “Golden years, phooey! These are the most difficult years of my life. We work all our lives and give the best we can and then in return we get wrinkled, old and undesirable to the majority of society. What’s golden about that?” I could see her point.
She was excited to do something for someone.

When the light of morning beamed through the window I realized this was the day I would share my expertise to make a difference in someone’s life. I felt I could handle the challenge. I grabbed my bag and keys and headed towards mama’s house.

She appeared at the door as I started to open it. I asked if she had her bag and her response was “I am my own bag!” She laughed and scurried towards the car.

I thought about all the years as a child mama had taught me about God and the power of prayer. After we fastened our safety belts I grabbed her hand. We said a prayer asking for God to help us make the day a good one for the residents of the home.

We spoke as we followed the directions to the Golden Years Retirement Residence. Mama thought the name ironic. We prayed again once again.

Mama was more nervous than me and kept saying, “Oh I won’t be of any help to you. They don’t need to see another old person. What they need is you, baby.” Knowing mama, I knew that simply was not true.

We arrived and parked and held hands again as we knocked on the door. We always held hands.

After introducing herself, the hostess directed us to the living room where we were supposed to share our special “talent.” Our group was small.

There was a ninety six year old woman who was very tiny and frail. She slept in the wheelchair. Our hostess said she had lost her eyesight three years ago. She had been a teacher for many years.

The air smelled stagnant and it was hot in the room. Our hostess apologized but explained that the residents often got chilly and so she kept the windows up and the heat on.

A rather handsome man came into the room. He was using a walker. He seemed very stern and unresponsive to our presence. It was as if he had been required to attend. His age was eighty-five.

The hostess was warm and friendly, but looked tired and worn down. She said we were so welcomed as their tasks were endless. Many of her residents had no family, actually no guests or friends at all.

“Some of them have no one in the world, so we advertised, hoping someone would care.” She thanked us again for coming.

“Please don’t be discouraged if our guests seem distant and uncaring. They will let me know afte you leave how they feel about your presentation. I am just so happy you would take the time our of your lives to share some time with these seniors.”

Another woman, almost ninety, came ambling into the room. She was recovering from a fire than burned her home. It took all her belongings and almost ended her life. She was excited we were there. She was also so hard of hearing that every time she spoke she yelled loudly.

I heard the squeaking of another wheel chair and a woman wheeled herself into the room. She smiled and then seemed to succumb
to inner demons that took her smile and left her expressionless and motionless.

The last senior to join us was afflicted with altzimers disease. She was gracious but drifted in and out.

Darlene, the hostess, warned us again. “They may not move or be responsive. They may not communicate at all. But if they enjoy the time they will tell me after you leave. They really cannot trust anyone anymore except me and my husband. Everybody leaves them sooner or later.”

I felt confident (though upon reflection now, I think I was prideful). I thought it would be an easy task to teach a few breathing techniques and simple movements to them. I introduced mama and myself. Mama seemed shy. She sat down and encouraged me to get started.

I had planned to begin by doing a few simple breathing techniques. NO RESPONSE. I tried again. NO RESPONSE. I looked at mama and she smiled and said, “Go ahead honey.”

I switched to a simple hand and finger exercise. I thought perhaps this would reach them. Again, NO RESPONSE. I was desperate. “Pride goeth before a fall” resounded in my head. I didn’t know what to do! As had happened so many times before in my life, I turned to my mama and whispered, “HELP!”

What happened next was truly A MIRACLE OF LOVE. Like my little champion mama rose to the crisis to save me and the day.

She forgot about her shyness and stood up and introduced herself again. She said, “I’m Margie, and I’m old too, so let’s get past that!”

One by one she approached each of these seniors and began to get to know them. She touched someone’s hand saying, “Can you move your fingers? Well, if you can, why don’t you? What’s wrong? I know getting old hurts, but we’ve got to keep trying.”

She spoke to each one of them saying, “Tell me something about yourself. I want to know about you!”

When she walked up to the only man in the group he opened right up.
“I’m stubborn. I’m proud. I hate this getting old thing. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and with no reward as far as I can see.”

She touched his hand and looked into his eyes and said, “I know.” She simply touched his heart by truly caring.

No one knew mama herself was in constant pain. No one would have imagined that had faced more tragedy in her life than many people. She was on a mission of love and there was no time for self pity or sad reflections.

She reminded them that God is always near and not to forget that. She said, “He still works miracles, even in our late years of life. Sometimes we just simply forget to ask and trust. She reminded them: better times ARE coming!”

Mama walked towards the little blind lady who was still motionless in her wheel chair. We thought she had been sleeping throughout the afternoon. Mama touched her hand. “My friend,” mama said, “Tell us something about your ninety six years. I understand you were a teacher.”

“Oh yes,” she replied as she sat up straight in the chair. “I’ve been listening my dear. My name is Anna. I was a teacher for many years, but I have a better true tale to tell you.”

“Let me tell you about the time Cochise tried to barter with my mother for my long blond hair. We lived in Oklahoma then. I can’t remember the year, but I was just a small child. My hair was very blonde and several inches longer than my skirt waist.”

“Cochise was always with a bodyguard then. Even as a child I noticed how rugged and handsome Cochise was. I thought he was the finest Indian I’d ever seen.”

Mama asked, “Was the bodyguard to protect him?”

“Oh dear me, no child,” Anna said, “the bodyguard was to protect others. Cochise was aa wild one.”

Anna continued, “Now let me see, where was I? Oh yes, he told my mother he would make a treaty with the white man if he could cut my long locks. Just kind of like one more scalp. He looked at my mother and said he would not hurt me, only cut my hair.”

“My mother grabbed her long skirt and enfolded me in her arms and ran like the wind. Cochise was fast. He ran too. The guards had only turned for a moment when he had approached us, and they hadn’t seen he had made his way to us at all. He was a warrior and fast as a deer. I liked him.”

“He bounded from the guards. An automobile chase began. One of the guards from the automobile lassoed Cochise and they returned with him in hand. Cochise smiled a broad smile at me. I think he smiled because he had almost gotten free again. Mother wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t either.”

We were amazed at how clearly this blind woman, nearing the century mark of her life, recalled the events. She said, “That was about the story of me and Cochise.” She smiled as her head fell slowly to her shoulder. She seemed to fall asleep again.

Mama spoke to the gentleman again. “Can you tell me a story or recite poetry?” He said, Oh yes, I can recall all the Psalms by memory.”

She spend incredible time with each person. One lady who had entered the room late hadn’t moved. Mama asked her why. “I can’t move” the woman screamed. Mama asked her what her career had been. “I was a dancer,” she replied, “Not just in the chorus, but a lead dancer.”

“That’s it” mama said, as she touched her arm. “That’s why you are so angry, my friend. I bet you resent the fact you can’t dance. I understand you anger and sorrow. Tell me more.”

For over two hours my lovely mama moved back and forth to each person. She touched them physically, mentally and spiritually. She asked about their lives, their families, their careers. She asked about their losses, and allowed them to express the plight of growing so old. She listened. She really listened.

I sat in awe , watching my mentor at work. I realized I had been condescending in my pride to share “my expertise”. Mama on the other hand, humbled herself by acknowledging she sometimes felt sadness and anger. She refused to let these people ignore her love. She opened their hearts.

When we left all the seniors directly told us goodby and thanked us for coming. They looked in mama’s eyes as she said goodby. She hugged and kissed each one.

Darlene thanked us. Mama and I clasped hands and walked to the car. As we drove home I thanked mama for saving the day. She turned to me and said, “Oh honey, it was your idea, but I have a secret. I said a prayer before uttering a word. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; then I asked the Lord to give me all the right things to say and do. It wasn’t me!”

I will never forget the lessons of love I learned that day. I was humbled and learned what true empathy means. Mama’s faith in the power of prayer gave her instant courage and the words with which to speak to this group.

I thanked God for allowing this special angel to be my mama. I glanced over at her and she was sitting there quiety with her hands folded, looking straight a head. There was an feeling of peace and joy around her that I hadn’t seen for a while. She was smiling.

I thought, “As ye giveth, so shall ye receive.”

4 Responses to “A Miracle of Love”

  1. tranalist Says:

    Wow. That made me cry. I feel like so much of our lives are wasted away busying ourselves with work, traffic (if you live in a city), and other things, that we forget to care for others and honor others. I read in 1Peter yesterday, “Honor ALL people.” When I read stories like this, I am reminded of how my generation overlooks those we should be taking care of. To think that I don’t even make time to spend with my own grandmother is disheartening and a little shameful. Thanks for sharing. Your mamma seems like a wonderful, amazing woman, with a heart full of love.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Whoo!. That’s powerful.
    After caring for my mother for many years, this year in particular has been a lesson in humility. She was in a seniors residential care home for one year less one day. The care givers were wonderful caring people, but the residents needed people who could take time with them, to talk to them and listen.
    I made many friends whilst there – all of them with fantastic tales to tell of their “ordinary” lives.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    I’m going to check in on your post regularly. Gotta go now, though because, just an hour from now, we are burying mother’s ashes in the Memorial Garden at church. Treasure your Mama while you have her.
    Kay

  3. Lamar Cole Says:

    Fifty years of wedded bliss is the miracle of love.

  4. Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

    AMEN!

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