by Laura Stevens
One Sunday at church Pastor Linda told me she was starting a new Visitation Committee to visit shut-ins who are Trinity members. She asked if I could do that. I believe I tried to come up with an excuse not to do this, but I couldn’t come up with a good one so finally I said, “Of course!” I was asked to visit a church member at one of our local care facilities.
My first few visits were difficult. I told her who I was and why I was there. I asked her how she was, and she replied grimly, “I eat. I sit. I sleep.” It broke my heart, so I said to myself, “Oh, God, please help me to bring a little sunlight into her life. Please help me to know what to do to make her life a little better.” I found she could see very little because of macular degeneration (she has lost all her central vision). She had two relatives in town, but they rarely visit. She and I didn’t have a lot in common. In her younger years she had worked hard at Warren Paper Company making jigsaw puzzles and had also worked in a tomato processing plant--a life that was foreign to me.
But I started to ask others at Trinity about this member. They remembered her for her singing in Trinity talent shows and from sitting in the front row each Sunday and singing her heart out. So I asked her about her singing, and we at last had something to talk about! One visit I suggested we say the Lord’s Prayer together, and we only got through about the first line when she burst into song and sang the rest so that anyone in the halls could hear! What a gift she had given me! After that, she would sing for me hymns she loved—a real treat. Now, her voice is that of an 80+ year old but I think it is wonderful! I started to bring a CD player and we listened to all kinds of music—she said she loves all music. So we listened together to lots of hymns, Christmas carols, to South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Strauss waltzes and the Kington Trio, one of my favorites. We even listened to Bob Newhart jokes and laughed together. I love it when she laughs! She loves to hear about my cat, Bentley, and laughs hard at his stories. She can’t see my face, but I wear colorful socks which she can see and which make her smile and laugh. She loves cherries and cherry pie especially so I’ve been bringing her some cherry desserts. Yesterday I brought her sliced fresh peaches. I know the care facility really tries hard with the food, but her meals don’t look very appetizing to her or to me!
I have gotten far more out of my visits with her than I ever could have expected. At the end of each visit we hug and tell each other we love each other. I feel like I am doing God’s work when I visit her. She once told me, “I love having visitors, and I love music, and I love to sing!”
Laura's friendship with this nursing home resident has truly given this resident a new life. The resident is a different person since Laura started visiting with her. Would you like to make a difference in someone's life? Please contact Pastor Linda for more information.