This is part three of a series about Lorene who was born and raised in Kentucky. Lorene moved to a small farm in Adams County, Ohio with her husband and two minor children in 1968. Lorene was ninety-two years old and fiercely fighting to maintain her independence when she enrolled in our program. But Lorene moved to a long-term care facility when she could no longer live alone.
During one of my visits at “The Manor”, I suggested to Lorene, “You seem to have adjusted better than I thought you would”; and Lorene replied, “Thanks for saying so. It’s good to hear someone say something positive about you. I know I’m not the only patient they have here and it’s good to get to know and understand the people who are taking care of you. I’m on the receiving end now. I used to be on the giving end but I’ve learned that you can’t give without receiving. It works that way. And if there is one thing I’ve learned since I’ve been here it’s, ‘You have not because you ask not’, and so I ask for two, one for me and one to give away.
“Life gets too hard sometimes and it’s usually around eleven o’clock at night and you just want someone to come in your room and love you and rub your back. I didn’t use to, but now I pray that God would send his angels. You can’t do better than that can you? I pray that God will send people into my room who love me. When someone helps me with something I need it helps my soul. It really does!
“Let me tell you about my day of love. I was just wanting to get out of this world, but I asked God for a day of love; a day to give and receive love. I was proud of myself for putting those two things together. Then my niece’s daughter visited; and Carol (daughter) came down. I’d been wanting a buttered biscuit with those heavy fruits on it, preserves. Then carol showed up with a buttered biscuit with strawberry preserves. She bought her a sausage biscuit. And then Randy (son) showed up. Randy is showing me a lot of love and respect. You can count on him. I make out a shopping list and he gets me anything I ask for. It was a day of love. And Bob (previous neighbor) has taken me on to raise; he’s my angel. He brings me butter pecan ice cream, that’s my favorite. And he brings me beautiful flowers and trims them and places them in that vase over there. I’m not an animal person, I’m a plant person, and I like things that delight the eye; things that are colorful; why not!”
I called Lorene’s daughter Carol who lives out of town and gave her an update on Lorene’s condition. I explained, “Your mom told me that she likes or wants two things. She likes things that “delight the eye” and she prays that God will send people into her room that love her. So that’s what I will do.” I explained that I was privileged to become one of what Carol had termed “the cast of characters” in her mother’s life. I asked Carol if there was any food or snack that her mother liked and she told me that Annette, the caregiver who helped with Lorene’s care when Lorene spent the winters at Carol’s house, used to buy Lorene Tim Bits and Lorene really enjoyed them.
In route to my next visit I swung by Tim Horton’s and bought a snack pack of Tim Bits. When I showed up Lorene exclaimed, “That’s a colorful container. I like that. I’ve never met a container I didn’t like. Thank you, you’ve accomplished a lot today. It shows that you were thinking about me; you went out of your way for me; it pleases my eye and I can use it too store things in.” I realized that day that sometimes Tim Bits are more than just Tim Bits.
Lorene’s response reminds me of something she shared a few weeks earlier, “Imagine that everyone you meet has a sign around their neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’. There was a Lady at church who sat with newcomers so they wouldn’t feel all alone. One of Billy Graham’s daughters once said, ‘In every pew is a broken heart’.”
Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014), American poet, singer, and civil rights activist wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“They’re desperate for hope; darkness clouding their view; they’re looking to you. Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him… You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions; just know that He loves them and stay by their side; and love them Like Jesus,” (Casting Crowns, “Love Them Like Jesus”).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.