Life is a wonder

By Loren Hardin - Contributing Columnist



Ruth enrolled in outpatient hospice services when she was ninety years old. She and her late husband, Loren, were raised in Wellston, Ohio but lived most of their adult lives in Wheelersburg, Ohio. I remember Loren as a “really nice man”, always attired in a suit and tie, and carrying a briefcase, when he came to my grandparent’s house to collect the monthly insurance premiums. I was around seven or eight years old at the time, but I distinctly remember my grandparents talking about “what a nice guy” Loren was; about how much he “cared about kids”, about his involvement in the Boy Scouts and the Explorers programs. My family respected Loren so much that my mother named me after him.

I never saw or heard much about Loren after those early childhood days; not until I met Loren, Ruth and their daughter, Becky, some forty-six years later, at the open house of our new hospice center. What an unexpected honor and delight to finally meet and talk with the man I was named after. And little did I know that ten years later I would be privileged to be Ruth’s hospice social worker.

During my initial visit Ruth reminisced: “Loren and I attended the same school, but we didn’t know each other; because Loren was four years older. When Loren graduated,he enlisted in the Navy for four years during WWII. When he came back we attended the same church and participated in group activities like cookouts and hiking. Loren drove a yellow convertible and had his pilot’s license. He would tip his wings when he flew over our house. On one of our first dates, he took me to a movie in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He dropped me off at the theatre and said, ‘I’ll be right back’. I knew where he was going. He went to break up with a girl from Parkersburg who he was dating and came back to be with me. He ended up flying me to Cincinnati to buy my wedding suit.”

Ruth and Loren’s courtship reminds me of the classic Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland movies, produced in the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Errol Flynn was the debonair swashbuckler and Olivia de Havilland his leading lady. Ruth was undeniably Loren’s leading lady. Becky recalled, “Mom shared with me how she and dad often fell asleep holding hands; and since dad’s passing three years ago, mom won’t go to sleep unless dad’s robe is laying over her.” What kind of a man causes his wife to take such a shine to him! I suggest, only a man who loves his wife, “…Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:25-33); only a man who makes his wife feel like she is the most important person in the world to him.

During one of our weekly visits Ruth shared about attending the funeral of a sister-in-law in Wellston, Ohio. Little did Ruth know that she would be approached by an old high school classmate’s nephew at the funeral. Ruth’s classmate had been living in Florida for several years and dispatched her nephew to ‘ask around’ to see if Ruth was at the funeral, and if so, to get Ruth’s telephone number for her. Ruth stated, “He found me, and my old classmate and I have been talking on the telephone ever since.”

Ruth’s unforeseen reconnection with her old classmate launched us into a discussion about how little we really know about what’s around the next bend, or what God may have in store for us. We talked about how, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9). Little did I know that I would meet Ruth, Loren and Becky, at the open house that day. Little did I know that Becky would later call me to help find private duty caregivers for Loren. Little did I know that I would facilitate Loren’s admission to hospice, or that I would now be privileged to be Ruth’s hospice social worker. After talking about how little we know, Ruth smiled and asserted, “Life is a wonder!”

Life is a “wonder” isn’t it! And seeing how little we really know (See Ecclesiastes 11:5-6), how should we live and approach each new day? Over the past several months, for some unexplained reason, I’ve been waking up with a sense of wonder. As I stand by the coffee pot pouring my first morning cup, I look up and pray, “God, I wonder what You have in store for me today. I wonder who You will bring my way.” Words can’t capture the sense of adventure and anticipation it’s ignited in me. Instead of being preconceived, attacking and dreading the day, I approach the day with my eyes wide-open. I’m on the lookout for, and expect God to show up, in one form or another, at any moment; and I’m seldom disappointed. And I find myself feeling strangely more present, available and alive.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder; you get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted; God forbid love ever leave you empty handed. I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, whenever one door closes I hope one more opens…I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, you never settle for the path of least resistance…give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, and when you get the choice to set it out or dance, I hope you dance,” (“I hope you dance”, by Lee Ann Womack).


By Loren Hardin

Contributing Columnist

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course”, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course”, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.