With trepidation, I made the hour-long drive to my favorite town of Ligonier by myself to do a reading for residents of a care home. The rain had been pouring earlier and my mood became as gray as the day. My husband is usually with me on this trip, and I am always excited and filled with warmth to visit this beautiful place. It felt daunting driving there alone though. Alone with my thoughts, and my lack of confidence. Alone with elderly folks in a place like the one that had housed my mom before she passed away a little over a year ago. How would it affect me? What would they be like?
The further I went however, the more peace descended on me. I felt God as my passenger. I began praying for the residents, their caregivers, and families. I prayed that God would give me the right words, and that I would be a blessing to them.
The facility was charming and clean. I noticed plants, a beautiful fish tank, bird, and resident kitty. I couldn't help but smile. My set-up was in an airy room overlooking a moving stream. Ducks waddled about enjoying themselves below. Well, at least they're enjoying this wet weather, I thought.
Residents began arriving along with two of the workers. I felt instantly at ease in the presence of the elderly. It has always been a calling of mine to be around them. I immediately feel a kinship. I see the young girls and young boys they once were. I wonder about the lives they've led. Some of their eyes hold sadness, and others, mischief. Some of them are serious, and others, child-like and playful.
A few arrived in wheelchairs and with walkers. Others seemed spry and healthy. Every one of them had a most beautiful smile. I was charmed by their presence, and spoke heartily with them.
I'd chosen one silly cat story to read, a tender poem about my father's passing, and a short Christmas story. Tears were being wiped away at the end of my reading. They clapped and thanked me. I'd made little gift bags for them, and passed them out. Their gratitude as they received them, warmed my heart.
A gentleman invited me to stay longer and have lunch with them. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to chat with them. During my time in the dining room I met several others--people I will treasure in my heart.
One lady is a bird lady, and the resident parrot just loves her. She knows this woman and eagerly awaits for her to scratch behind the little feathered head. I was taken on a tour of the facility and learned that the bird lady also loves to crochet. Her work is impeccable and I would like to learn from her one day. She is ninety-years-old, and had lost a daughter in the late 1990's. She still choked up while speaking of her.
Another lady couldn't stop hugging me. She said, "I think you and I could be very good friends." She loved the little teddy bear from her gift bag, and I saw her walking around with it. My heart felt warm and full. My mind was completely at peace.
The best resident I met today was the gentleman who bought me lunch. He is a retired teacher, veteran, and very well-spoken. He held himself with dignity and charm. We had a lot to chat about. He was thrilled that an "author" came to visit them. That title didn't matter at all to me today. For today I was just me, but better. Today I learned, grew, and blossomed.
Today I did what I loved, and loved what I did. I didn't think back on any sadness from the past. And I made a few new friends in the process.