Caught in the Act

As I predicted, my sweet old lady in the nursing home is still living, and more miserable than ever, although she’s wonderfully lucid and frank and quite funny (Well, I don’t care what the nurse’s name is, I’m just telling you he was good-looking. And he’s the one who did my bath today).

I went to visit her yesterday morning, fresh off my vacation. I found her alone and asleep (or nearly so) in her room, hooked to her oxygen and looking weaker than she did five days ago. I sat with her quietly, thinking and praying vaguely in my head, and then, because I thought it might be comforting to her, I started singing some hymns softly. She played the organ for a long time, both in church (not as the official organist, but as the substitute), and even after she came to the nursing home she played in the recreation room for the other residents until she became too ill to do so. So I thought hymns might make her happier than my talking at her, and might seep into her consciousness a bit better. So I sang. I got most of the way through Amazing Grace— there’s a verse in there I don’t know, “The Lord has promised good to me…” so I hummed a lot on that one, before my favorite, the following verse, which always reminds me of Harry Potter‘s Sirius:

And when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil a life of joy and peace.

I was into the Alleluias when the daughter found me. Caught in the act of visiting my congregant without even having to be asked. You score mega good-pastor points for that. Of course I was singing, which might not have been considered a blessing, depending on how good the daughter’s hearing is.

The daughter (who is even more insistent that her mom “hang on” until her 91st birthday two weeks from now, when the daughter can return [don’t say that, honey, you only make it harder for her to let go, and she so desperately wants to]) goes home today, so I don’t know if I’ll see her when I head down. I hope I can catch my congregant awake and alone so I can talk to her (not sing to her!) and let her tell me what her children don’t want to hear: how much she’s looking forward to being taken home, what she wants to tell her husband when she sees him, and how much she wants her pain to go away– all things she needs to say, tears she needs to shed, but which her children keep gently shushing.

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2 Responses

  1. Powerful post. I feel peaceful just thinking about the quiet scene with you singing softly…until the daughter comes in, that is.

  2. @marlajayne,
    I didn’t mind the daughter coming in, really. It’s just that the families of people passing away sometimes are in their own pain, which is understandable. This sweet woman just wants to slip away peacefully. Unfortunately, I think she still has a way to go– she was much better yesterday when I saw her. I wish her children saw the peacefulness she wants. I think she wants to talk to them about her funeral and things like that, but they aren’t ready.

    Of course it’s easy for me to say, right? I don’t know if I would be ready if she was my mom, even knowing what I know.

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