I was visiting a Nursing home one day, when a voice called out to me, “DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE OF THOSE TO GO AROUND?”
The friend whom I had gone to meet had been sitting, watching the traffic in the nursing home, her fingers twitching aimlessly over her folded hands, her legs wrapped in a shawl even though it was a California summer day. When I visited, she never liked to talk with me where others could hear, so I wheeled her to her room where we spent a short while talking about the goodness of the Lord and his tender care over each of us.
I assured her again as I had done on each visit, that the Bible says , “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The words comforted her heart and encouraged her faith. They were more than words to her, and to me. They were a way of life, and that afternoon we were both conscious of the presence of our Lord.
Following our prayer and visit, I returned her to the lounge so she would not be alone. I kissed her aged, wrinkled face. Suddenly, to my right, the voice spoke out. “Say, do you have any more of those to pass around?” I laughed and glanced at the elderly man, and my heart went out to him.
Perhaps I was the shadow of someone he once knew. Or, I could have been his daughter who did not come to visit as often as he would like. I quickly went to him, and giving him a hug and squeeze, I bade him and my friend, “good-bye.”
I shall never forget another occasion when a little old lady sat daily in the hall of another nursing home. As I made my weekly call to one of the patients, I walked quickly down the hall, my heels clicking on the hard polished floor. Before I reached my friends’ room, I had to pass Maude. There she was, watching the flow of traffic, nurses hurrying by. For the most part Maude lived in her own world of seclusion and memories. But, on this day, as I approached, she brightened, stretched out both arms and said, “At last! You have come to see me!” The fact that I was a complete stranger didn’t matter. Where human need is concerned, there is no such thing as a stranger. I stopped. She drew me close, kissed me on the cheek, then let me go, retreating again into her memory world.
I walked away with tears in my eyes.
When you catch a glimpse of those wheel-chaired patients, sitting aimlessly around, or wheeled to the front door wishing their loved ones would come, but seldom being rewarded, you will make it a point to find a little time – as the Lord enables you – to become a part of the ministry of visitation.
(This was written by Gladys in the late 70s or early 80s when she was actively a Church Pastor. We wanted to share this encouraging word as we near the holidays to remind ourselves, and you, that there are so many people out there who just need a smile, a hug and a person to show interest in them. Challenge yourself to reach out the next time you can fit it into your schedule.)