Nancy’s Christmas Visit

For three years I could not get a specific little nursing home in my town of Fountain Inn out of my mind.  God put this nursing home on my heart but I kept ignoring Him with the excuse that I didn’t have time.

Finally a year ago, two days before Christmas, I called and spoke to the Activities Director.  Being single for the majority of my adult life, Christmas and New Year’s have always been very difficult holidays for me so I asked the director if she had any residents who did not have anyone or at least any who had no one who ever came to visit them.  Fifteen of the 60 residents fit into this category meaning that one-quarter of this small community was alone!

That night I purchased 15 bottles of hand lotion, wrapped each one of them with pretty ribbon, and on Christmas Eve arrived at the nursing home with my arms filled with gifts.  As I handed each person a gift, I touched their hand, looked them in the eye, and wished them a “Merry Christmas.”  Their faces lit up with the biggest smiles as if I had just handed them a bar of gold.  In that moment, they knew someone saw them.  They knew they were not forgotten and that someone besides their nurses cared about them.

It was all I could do to not cry as I looked into each person’s grateful face; not from sadness or pity but from the overwhelming joy I felt in my heart.  For the first time in all my years, I knew that the life I have been given was about reaching out to others.  It is about having empathy and compassion.  It is about giving to others the same love that has been so freely given to me.  I knew I had finally found my purpose.

I have returned to the nursing home many times throughout the year since that first afternoon.  This past Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve I spent several hours each day visiting with the residents and loving on them.  They have so much to share and they need only for someone to sit with them and listen, to laugh with them, to cry with them, to interact with them.  They don’t need us to have any special skills.  They want only to know that they still matter; that they are seen, and to be able to share their love with you.

Some of the residents have told me how happy it makes them when I visit. That makes my heart sing.  But in all honesty, it may be a toss-up of who gives who more joy knowing how much joy and happiness they have brought into my life.  I look forward to every visit.

One of the lessons I have learned in sharing my life with these residents is that if you allow Him, God can take one of your greatest sorrows and turn it into one of your greatest joys and it will all be to His glory.

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  Matthew 25:35-36, 40