2003-06-07 - Jim
Originally Published 2000-04-29
I have worked periodically with the elderly for three years. I think the thing I have enjoyed the most is listening to the stories they tell. You can hear in an hour, what it took them a lifetime to experience. Elderly people, especially those in nursing homes, whose minds have not been affected by disease or medication, tend to be very honest - even blunt sometimes. They are extremely willing to give and receive affection, and they cherish the value of a hug. They are far past worrying about what anyone thinks about how they look or talk, and are very eager to share what they have learned throughout their lives. They are also willing to share what little they have within their community, whether it is candy or a wheel chair.
Sadly, understaffing in most facilities makes it difficult to spend as much time interacting as you would like to, and takes an emotional and physical toll on those who work there. I think I developed my love for the elderly when I was young, and my grandfather used to take me to see my great-grandmother. She was Italian and spoke no English. I used to sit for hours and listen to them talk.
Occasionally, she would come over and rub my head or smile in my direction. My grandfather told me many stories about how poor they were growing up, and how his parents had traveled to the US in the hopes of a better life.
We met Jim at church. I think the first time we saw him he was standing behind the counter handing out coffee. I would hear the kids affectionately call him "Mr. Jim". I watched as he held babies and played with the children. We talked a few times mainly about his children. During one of the last conversations we had, he told me about how he wanted to organize the sermon tapes he had from church, so that when he was gone, they would be left for his children - in the hopes they would learn about the Lord and salvation through them.
I liked Jim. He was simple. He did not dress fancy, he did not drive a fancy car, his words were not eloquent, his health was poor. But he would be glad to tell you about what God had done in his life and how thankful he was.
We got a call about two weeks ago to tell us Jim had a stroke. He was not doing too well. Scott, our assistant Pastor and another young man took cards to him that the children had made in church. It was a special moment for all of them. Since then, the area of Jim's brain that has been affected by the stroke has left him unable to eat, speak, open his eyes or move on his own. We don't know what God's plan is for Jim, whether he will be healed here on Earth or in Heaven.
We do, however know that Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose" is true. Perhaps the recent circumstances in Jims life will lead to the salvation of his children. We can surely pray.
We miss him. We will remember his willingness to serve others, his love for children and his prayers.
In His Service,