Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Whose Really Frail and Hanging at the Old Folks Home

Years ago I worked in  a private facility that housed older folks. The care was not commensurate with nursing home care and the words "assisted living" were not coined yet so it was called the "Old Folks Home".  Folks who could no longer live alone lived at Parkers.  It had two big  social areas with couches, chairs and televisions, a dining room and an indoor courtyard that served mostly as the smoking grounds. I worked on the third shift from 11 at night until 7 in the morning.  There was one other woman and myself that made up the entire night staff.  My partner would be responsible for one half of the building and I the other side. I was only around 21 years old at the time.  Let that sink in that a 21 year old kid was responsible for 50 people that could not be responsible for themselves.

It wasn't a hard job. I folded leftover laundry. I checked rooms and walked the halls.  In the early hours I read the medical charts  and distributed the medicine into tiny little cups for when the next shift arrived.  I changed shriveled up and mean Mr. Arnold who wet himself and his bed every single night of his life probably because of orneriness.  There were a few other people who required things during the night shift but my main job though was drinking 16 cups of coffee, nibbling on cookies and reading.

 Some of the folks had dementia like Mr. Bob.  He had been a barber and he carried a razor and a comb in his pocket at all times and would pull out his razor and start shaving at the dinner table.  He also would carry on conversations with himself in the bathroom mirror in the middle of the night to find out which pair of shoes his reflection wanted to wear.  He was an exceeding sweet man but his mind was wobbly.  We had one lady who was truly schizophrenic that wore really heavy blue eye shadow and black eye liner.  I was always a little unnerved by her. She was probably only in her 40's or 50's.  One little old lady who was in her 90's was an escape artist.  She once hid in a ditch on a bitterly cold night wearing only a thin gown like she was escaping from the Gestapo.  One really young guy lived in the facility who had burned his mind out on drugs.  There were some super sweet folks like Mrs. Weast you kept a crocheted doll setting pretty on her bed or Mr. Louis who never had children.  He didn't have anywhere else to live even though he had been very successful financially in his life. He had invented something impressive for one of the car companies.  His mind was sharp but his body was failing.    One man we had was Mr. Carl.   He seemed pretty harmless but he loved to peer around the corner with just one eye to spy on you.  It was a little creepy to see that one eye right at the edge of a doorway tracking your every movement.

 The night staff was the responsible party for the drug cabinet, night time security, any clean up and any medical issues.   When folks wandered the halls in confusion or woke up their roommates, I had to  deal with it.  Anyone could walk out of the building at any time as the doors could not be locked in case of a fire or other hazard. I look back now and realize it was really overwhelmingly huge responsibility.  I was young though and I didn't really grasp what could have happened in the middle of the night with all of those folks and all of their individual issues.  Nothing really traumatic ever happened and I actually remember the job with fondness. I look back now and think it is miraculous that nothing ever really terrible happened while I worked those night shifts.    

Life can be a lot like Parkers.  There is great potential for disaster. Most of the time the disaster doesn't come but if you live long enough from time to time you will be thrust into situations where you will feel pretty alone and pretty overwhelmed. It can feel a lot like being plucked down in the middle of  a quagmire and you are unable to move forward or backwards.

I am old enough and have lived through enough to know that it really doesn't depend upon me.  I am not one making the world spin on its invisible axis.  I can't protect and provide for anyone, in fact I can't even keep myself breathing.  God is the One who is in control and we are a foolish ridiculous people who think that somehow "we have got this".  We don't, but God does.  We need to look to Him not just for our salvation, but we need to look with a humble dependence upon Him for our everyday everything.  It is hard balance because we are called to be responsible and to work hard and we should because He does use our efforts but He is really the One who is making all things work together for the good of those who love Him and who are the called....  He is the One who opens His hand and provides for every living creature... He is the One whose mercies are new every morning... He is the One who is able to do more than we can think or imagine...He is the One who can make streams in the desert and the crooked paths straight... He is the One who can make all things new...He is the One who can bring joy out of a dark night...

I am past my oh so innocence of being a naive 21 year old who doesn't grasp just how really frail I am, but thank you Jesus I know that there is not a single thing that is frail about You.

When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

There comes a time that we really do need to move past our pride and independence.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

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