On Easter Sunday afternoon, we brought our family to a nearby nursing home to visit. The kids had spent a good chunk of the previous day making crafts to distribute to the residents, and on Resurrection Day, it seemed important to not only celebrate with baskets and family and church, but to go out and share what Christ had done with others. So off we went to our nursing home to share the love of Jesus. We've done this a handful of times, usually putting on a little concert (although not on this occasion), singing hymns with them, handing out crafts or pictures the kids have made, and then just talking with the residents (they love having kids around). Then our family goes home, all of us feeling good about ourselves and our good deed, and we go on with our lives. Eventually, I'll think about how long it's been since we've been there, or since our kids have done anything to serve others, and we'll go back. But not for awhile. After all, we have five children. We're a busy family.
This time at the nursing home, though, we met a new woman named Bea. Bea lives in the building next to the one we usually visit (we had never been there before), but our kids had made so many crafts, we had to expand our ministry! A nurse told Bea that we were coming, so she was in her room waiting for us as we made our way down the hallway. She invited us in, and then did something none of the other residents had done that day: she asked each of us our name, and then repeated them as if committing them to memory.
Bea talked to our kids and thanked them for coming to see "this Grandma", and like many other people that we visited with, Bea thoroughly enjoyed our company. She seemed excited when I suggested I would come back with the little ones to talk to her sometime. Someday soon I will, but again, we have five kids. We're a very busy family.
Very busy. Today, for instance, I got two kids ready, made their lunches, and sent them out the door to school. Then I got the remaining four of us ready and out of the house just in time to get to ballet...eight minutes late. After ballet, we stopped at home and I made lunches for the kids, which they ate in the van on the way to Meijer. I was getting the baby out of his carseat and wrapping him into my Sleepywrap so I could carry him, when I was horrified to discover that he had blown out his diaper. Poo was everywhere. Oh, joy. I was forced to perform some award-winning diapering maneuvers in the front seat of the van, during which the poo-covered baby smiled and cooed profusely. I then put him into the "emergency" diaper bag outfit, which he promptly puked all over. This was apparently quite exciting, as he was still bubbling over with glee. To top it all off, the baby that had been thrilled while saturated in spit-up and something that resembled Dijon mustard then proceeded to scream all the way through the grocery store. Double joy.
Some days it's incredibly exhausting to have so much to do and to be needed by so many people.
As I was vacating the grocery store with a cart full of groceries (tired children and screaming baby in tow), I noticed an elderly gentleman near the exit. He was wearing one of those awesome little hats that only elderly men can pull off, and he was all alone. Using a cane to support himself, he watched our little circus as we paraded by. And for some reason, the sight of him reminded me of Bea.
Now nursing homes are full of little old ladies that love visiting with children, but there was something different about Bea...a sort of sadness. When I asked her about her family, I understood. Bea has very little family. She'd only had two sons, and one of them had passed away after a lengthy illness. Her grandchildren are few and all grown up. Most heartbreaking of all, Bea recently became a widow. She's all alone, with nothing important to do, and with no one that thinks she's something special. No one needs her anymore.
All of a sudden, I'm realizing how blessed I am to have work to do. To have groceries to shop for and meals to make. To have a smiling poo-covered baby that needs me. To have a whole houseful of children that keep me busy and think I'm the greatest thing in the world. What joy! Because someday this part of my life will have passed, and I'll be sitting somewhere wondering where all the time went. Just like Bea.
We are a busy family. I am a busy mom. But I'm not too busy for a lonely widow named Bea. I think I'll go visit her tomorrow.