Driving down the five-lane from work the other day, the thought came to mind that I should go visit my buddy, Stanley Gould, at Elkins Regional Convalscent Center. "Stanley must need some encouragement," I mused, as I made a bee-line there.
The visit with Stanley was precious as always. A friend of mine said it best in a song writtten about Stanley: "An Angel Among Us." Stanley's wit, knowlege, caring and insight were just what I needed that day. Yes, I had been "set up" by God.
It wasn't that Stanley needed me, it was that I needed Stanley. He made a request that day. Stanley asked me to please write an article about visiting in nursing homes. It seems the cold and snow has kept most people away this winter and visitors have been few. When asked what I should tell folks, Stanley quickly said, "tell them to just smile when they see us. Tell them to say 'hi.' Tell them that just because our bodies aren't working properly doesn't mean our mind is not. Most of us have our right minds."
Stanley laughed as he told me about a friend from high school who had asked another friend if Stanley had his right mind. The friend told him, "Yes, and he's a lot smarter than you!"
A challenge for all of us during this winter is to get our minds off of ourselves, the weather and cabin fever, and to think about those who year-round do not get out. Many are coped up day after day, night after night, and year after year. Yes, the weather has been amazing, baffling and worrisome at times. But, purpose, hope and joy will come if we strive to bring it to someone else.
Do you know a shut in? Is there someone in the nursing home you haven't seen in a long time? Are there school children you know who probably depend upon the free breakfast and lunch at school and are not getting it due to snow days? Many are going hungry because they've been home all winter. It's time we do something about the things we can do something about! This has been a burden of mine of late. What about the hourly wage worker who depends on their job to feed their children, but they are unable to go to work due to school cancellations? How about you? Could you bring groceries to a family in need? We need some movers and shakers who will act immediately upon this.
What about a widow or widower trying to adjust? You do not have to know what to say. I am reminded of a little 4-year-old boy who ran and sat beside an elderly widower. When his mother asked what he was doing, he replied, "Nothin'... just helpin' him cry."
Another little boy became afraid one night in the darkness. The tot cried out, "Mommy, I'm afriad." The mother replied from another room: "Don't worry son, Jesus is with you!" To that the little boy replied, "Yes, but I want somebody with skin on."
You can be Jesus with skin on for someone today. A phone call to a lonely person might be the very thing to lift their spirits. A visit to a nursing home or shut-in might bring some joy where there is nothing but pain. Groceries dropped off to a family with children might not only make stomachs stop growling, but bring some hope in the midst of snow day after snow day. Going to the grocery store for someone, shoveling a walk (again), or saying a prayer may bring comfort, hope and "spring" to someone today.
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and grief counselor and bereavement coordinator/chaplain for Mountain Hospice.)