Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16 (NASB)
Walking in to a nursing care facility is never easy. Usually the reception area is lined with wheel chairs containing people sitting in various degrees of wakefulness. Some smile, some talk, some wave but most are slumped over napping. Then the smell hits you. It is unmistakable and cannot be covered up no matter how much you spray Febreze.
It was difficult for me to go visit my grandmother when she was in the lock up Alzheimer’s unit. I would go see her every week. Often I would stay longer than I wanted to if she was alert and awake. Sometimes I would be there to feed her lunch. We would venture out to the bright sunny garden area where she would pantomime playing the piano and I would sing. She started calling me “momma” and I just went with it.
Back in her early days my grandmother played the piano for the silent movies. She was a virtuoso! Audre Smith could not read a note of music and couldn’t tell a 4/4 time from a bass clef but if you hummed her a few bars she could play like she had practiced that piece for hours. Gifted, we called her. As children were born into the family we always would watch to see to whom the gene pool passed the gift. Finally a little boy born to my niece could play any instrument like he owned it. The gift goes on.
Grandma told me a story of being at the Hotel Del in her younger days. Grandpa was getting his feet wet in the real estate market and they were there for some dinner shindig. As she was waiting she saw a piano just sitting there minding it’s own business so, naturally, she walked over and introduced herself. As she did with every piano she met, she invited herself to sit down and play. Boy, did she ever! Her playing caught the ear of a young man who came over and asked if he might join her. She was skeptical at first because she knew her skill but was unsure of this wet behind the ears dashingly handsome looking young man. She invited him to sit and they started playing Heart and Soul. It turned in to a honkey tonk version then a Cole Porter-esk version that ended with a dramatic flare. The two laughed as they heard the crowd that gathered break in to applause! Sounded like that scene came straight out of a movie. The young man told a delighted Audre Smith that he would be playing later that evening in a concert and would she join him for a special number. He introduced himself as Lee but was going by the stage name Liberace. She thanked him for the grand time but declined the invitation due to grandpa’s schedule. Little did she know at the time she would have a story to tell.
I have to tell you when she told me that story I about died! I was a young 20 ager and she began her story “did I ever tell you played with Liberace?” Growing up around my grandparents I knew who he was as well as Lawrence Welk, Kay Storm, Joanne Castle, Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney and all of the big band names. Grandpa corroborated the story stating “I couldn’t leave her alone even for a minute” so it went in to my bank of “family brushes with stardom” file right up there with meeting Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher at a Palm Springs grammar school fire works display.
As I lay here today thinking about all of those many stories contained in the lives of those in the nursing homes I cry. How many beautiful people are locked away, put away and forgotten by their loved ones because, hey, “life goes on, I have a schedule to keep, kids to raise, parties to attend, bargains to snatch up, shows to watch, have to get to the gym, meetings to attend, I work hard I need a break” and so on. Those thoughts crossed my mind often as I would not want to drag myself in to that care facility one more time. Being laid up myself these past weeks has been a good lesson in just how it feels. People have lives. Easy to forget.
God reminds me on a daily basis that He has not forgotten me. He has inscribed me on the palm of His hands. My walls are ever before Him. The walls only He can see. He has not forgotten you either and He never will. Be encouraged! Walls go up of loneliness, fear, and anxiety that I build and tear down and build and tear down. This is nothing new to Him or to me. Together we work on destroying those strongholds daily. It is daunting and purposeful at the same time. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.l It is his specialty so he is very good at it. Making the choice to not give in is exhausting sometimes. Many times I have given advice when asked, so often it feels like I am not paying attention to the very words I tell others! Know, dear one, God knows you. He is El Roi, the God who sees.
Seeing those precious saints in the nursing homes with their many stories ready to tell I am once again thrust to my knees in a prayer of forgiveness for not heeding God’s call to visit and invest in their lives that still matter. God has His ways of making us see His way! He has not forgotten me and He has not forgotten them. How blessed I am to have those memories of Grandma Smith, Grandpa Smith, my step dad Roger Babcock, step mom Aritha Smith, cousin Billy Walker, cousin Frankie Walker, Aunt Bess, Steve’s Grandmother Helen, and all of the others who welcomed visits through the years. Stop today and ask God how you can be a blessing to one who is in need of comfort. I guarantee you that you will also be comforted with memories to put in your keepsake book forever. Maybe even more than you knowAs I said before, BE ENCOURAGED! #recordstoriesforposterity #whenyouwalkwiththewise