This weekend my sister and I took a trip up north to visit our aunt who is recuperating in a short-term rehabilitation center. That center is connected to what is known as a long-term nursing facility.
My sister and I did not talk about that facility that we mistakenly walked through to find our aunt, who is 78, and by the way, an example of determination and grace. In fact, you would think since we never stop talking about everything the quiet time would be a strain. It wasn‚Äôt. It just was sad.
Why would anyone think that a room minus warm touches like a color other than white, paintings on the walls, a lamp with a frilly shade would be too much? Why would anyone think that shoving two white hospital beds side by side would be respectful or dignified for the two strangers who soon will become privy to the most intimate needs of each other before they even get to have their first serious conversation or giggle?
This facility was clean, so were the clients. The staff was friendly ‚Äî but the facility threw out a cold and distant atmosphere that made it hard to breathe. This facility is no different than thousands such places. Many just down the road from where we love, laugh and work…where we have family meals with parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who are fortunate enough to be able to take care of themselves.
Where is the dignity and the respect the ‚Äúold ones‚Äù have earned?
In ages past, they were revered. They were the ones who kept eras and personal histories alive.
I have a copy of A Cherokee Feast of Days ‚Äî Daily Meditations pinned in my cubicle at work to remind me how to treat those who are before me. I‚Äôd like to share it.
‚ÄúIn ages past, our old ones were the storytellers. This was the way things were passed along to the generations that followed. For this reason the aged people made it a point to remember every detail so they could relate it at a later time. They were the word and picture carriers making history and spiritual values alive and important. In recent times we have made our old ones think they are not so important. We spoof their stories and make them feel foolish. The truth is that we are ignorant of what is precious and how to ‚Äòa da li he li tse di ‚Äî appreciate age. Rigidity can creep in and set even the young mind if there are no soft memories, no laugher, no times too deep for tears.
Age is grace ‚Äî a time too valuable to waste.‚Äù