"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters
compared to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lessons Learned

When Great died, I wanted to do something to honor her memory. We decided to volunteer at a nursing home. This place is much different from Great's assisted living home, but one thing is the same. We have made some wonderful friends already. It's the best two hours of my week. 

The power of touch makes such a difference to us all.

This is Anastasia's favorite friend. Her name is Dot and she painted her room bright pink. Her room is filled with baby dolls and she loves to share them with the kids.

Emily and David were so adorable. Emily told me they are engaged. Love can bloom anywhere! 

Larisa has worked her for 12 years. Guess where she is from? Ukraine! I find it so interesting how you can meet some people and feel like you have known them forever.

This is "Mama B". Isn't she the cutest? She is 93 years old and walking all over the place.

This is Randy. The first time I met him, I thought, "awww, the poor guy". I talked to him like he was a little kid. He was only speaking jibberish, or so I thought. Little Catherine tugged at my sleeve and said, "Mom, he is spelling something to you." 
So, I had to put away my judgements and actually listen to the man. He was spelling his name for me because I kept calling him by the wrong name. His name is Ron. He was very patient with me.

Turns out that Ron is an extremely smart guy who actually wrote a book about himself. He even got his high school diploma. You would think that I would know better than to judge someone by how they look and act! 

He loved the children and asked me to take his picture with them. He has lived at the nursing home for 17 years. He is 70 years old, but told me that he "looks very young for his age". 

Then we went downstairs to visit with the Alzheimer's patients. This was a very sad place. 

I don't think they get many visitors down there. 

This woman kept reaching her hands out for us to stay and visit. So we did stay for a while. She babbled and babbled, while I stood by, trying to console her. Then, I recognized a word. She was speaking in Russian. Again, I feel so ashamed of my judgments. She was so thrilled when I was able to say a few words back to her in her language (mostly, I just said the word for "dog" in Russian, but at least she knew I understood her). She cried when we left. 

I learned so much from these special people. 

As soon as we got home, little Catherine got one of her favorite dolls and said she wants to give it to her next week, because, "she didn't have any children to hug all the time."

I am one lucky mom! 


  1. Wow..that post gave me goosebumps..you're a terrific Mum!
    Your kids are so blessed.
    Is Isabella 'allowed' to grow her hair long again? It really suits her :)

  2. You are doing something so very right with your children.

  3. Love This!
    Recently my dad passed away and my mom had to move into an assisted living place. She had brain anuerisms about 20 years ago and walks with a walker and looks like a looney mess on the outside. Surprisingly enough she was pretty judgemental about the folks living there. One day I finally told her that her neighbors are just like her. They look and sound decrepid but thats not the way they FEEL or see themselves. It seems to have changed her attitude. When we are out people will look at me when asking her a question. Like ordering dinner or paying for a purchase at a store. I generally just stand there and wait for her to respond. It makes for an uncomfortable few seconds but when she orders her glass of wine and says she'll take the check they tend to loosen up ;) Sometimes it makes me sad that my kids don't have the same grandma I had growing up but I think they are wiser and more patient! Not to mention that a glass of wine in a 90 lb woman with a walker makes for an evening full of laughs!! Sheri

  4. Catherine, you are an amazing woman and what a wonderful lesson you are teaching your girls. You could have a lot of excuses for not taking the time each week to go to the nursing home, but instead you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

  5. I have been reading your blog for a while now. I just want to say thanks for sharing your family! I have laughed and cried reading your posts. You guys are awesome! You are truly my hero!

  6. Your family is amazing! I think you inspire everyone who reads you blog to love more and love better.

  7. So awesome!!! Nursing homes are some of the loneliest places on earth....probably not as bad as orphanges but up there. Thank you for caring!! (((BIG HUGS)))!!!

  8. You are doing something awesome! It benefits the residents and you and your kids. Please tell Ron that when I saw his picture I thought "He's so young. Why's he in a nursing home with lots of old people?"

  9. Your children are so lucky to have a mom like you. What joy it must have been for the people the girls visited with. Bless little Catherine for wanting to give her doll to that lady. Keep up the good work with teaching your children to be kind and loving to those who are left behind as adults by their families. Be sure and take them back sometime. God bless you and your family.

  10. This post made me cry! I used to work at a nursing home. The Dementia/Alzheimers ward was a very sad place indeed. Bless your hearts for doing this!!!

  11. Just crying. The beauty of love sometimes leaves us speechless. My heart is breaking...but brokenness leads to action. Thank you for sharing to remind us what we need to do.

  12. How absolutely beautiful. Some of my happiest memories and some of my best feelings of gratitude come from time I spent at nursing homes and assisted living centers, playing the piano for the residents. I love seeing that your family is doing the same to spread joy.

  13. Thank you for doing this with your children, we do this too and feel the same way about the blessing going both ways. The memory affected Grandma and Grandpa's are near and dear to our heart too. We play balloon toss (or slam depending on our mood lol) and listen and dance to music from their generation (Elvis does gospel and Big Band a lot).

    I remember something you said about visiting Victoria in the orphanage, something like "It's almost too hard to go back to that place every day but if I don't I know she won't get out of her crib that day." It's exactly how I feel about the G&G's if we miss a week (which we missed plenty with all the sickness going around), there are some G&G's that don't even speak until the children come and touch them. The activities director who is a Christian and extremely dedicated to her job is always amazed at the response the children get from some of the G&G's.

    Bless you for giving of yourself and family :)
    Give Ron a hug from the Garcia's!

  14. I work in a dementia ward and no, they don't get many visitors, or if they do, they don't remember it :(

    Thank you for taking your kids to visit!


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