Nobody wants to be forgotten. When people talk about us after we’re gone, we surely don’t want them to say, “I’ll never forget what’s his name.”But even the most famous names are soon forgotten. How many people recognize the name of Billy Murray? He had 169 top forty hits from 1903 through 1927, and yet very few people remember him: ( Elvis had 113.) His hits included Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis, Give My Regards To Broadway, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band. Today, he’s even less well known than What’s His Name. At best, fame is fleeting. But if you want to be remembered by anyone, it should be Jesus. One of the most quoted scriptures comes from Christ’s crucifixion. Two thieves hung beside Christ on Golgotha One of the thieves taunted Jesus, but the other came to his defense.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss.
The thief did not ask for forgiveness, or to be saved from death. He asked Jesus to remember him.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto Thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Nursing homes are filled with people who feel forgotten. They’ve outlived their friends and family and hunger for the most modest attentions. Like the thief on the cross, they ask to be remembered. Jesus remembers them, and comes to be with them at their bedside.
Jesus loves me, loves me still
Thou I’m very weak and ill
From his shining throne on high
Comes to watch me where I lie
Jesus Loves Me by William B. Bradbury
Jesus calls us to remember those who are confined in nursing homes .Our reward will be great.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
I was sick, and ye visited me.
Matthew 25:34, 36 KJV
God will reward us when we stand before Him, but our most immediate rewards come from those we visit. It is the sick who may appear to have so little left to give who bless us with their love and gratitude.
Rose Parks was a little woman. I’m not sure just how little she was because I never saw her out of her bed. Rosa Parks (no relation) was a little woman too, from what I remember. She changed history sitting down.
I met Rose Parks in a nursing home. She was the roommate of the mother of Margaret, a friend of ours who my wife and I visited every Sunday after church. Margaret’s mother had the walls on her side of the room covered with Get Well cards, Missing You cards, photos and hand-made drawings from the kids in her family. The walls on Rose’s side of the room were barren. Her husband had died years before and they had no children. Like many others in the nursing homes my wife and I visit, Rose had outlived her friends and was facing her final days alone. She was blessed to have Margaret’s mother as a room-mate, because she was a positive, generous-spirited woman. When we’d stop by to visit, we always tried to spend a little time talking with Rose. We never once saw someone else visiting her.
One Sunday morning at church Margaret told us that her mother had passed away. The image of Rose lying there alone in her room with no visitors to brighten her days really haunted me. The last few times we had visited the nursing home, Rose seemed especially upset when we were leaving. I think she was concerned that if Margaret’s mother passed first, we’d stop coming to visit her. When we came over to her bed to give her a kiss and an embrace, she’d look pleadingly into our eyes, reach out her hand to touch us gently and say, “Please don’t forget me.” It was heart-wrenching to hear the desperation in her voice.
The next few months we made our weekly visit to see Rose. She had become dear to us and we were always lifted when we saw the excitement in her face when we walked into her room. We’d bring her small gifts to brighten her room and somehow it didn’t seem so barren. In return, Rose gave us her love and gratitude. She always gave more than she received, lying flat on her back in the bed.
The day we dropped by to visit Rose and found her empty bed, we were very concerned. We held out hope that perhaps she was just taken to another room for therapy or treatment, but our hearts were heavy. We found one of the nurses and asked,”Where is Rose?”
“No one told you?” she asked. “Rose passed away yesterday.”
“Do you know if there is going to be a funeral or memorial service for her?” we asked.
“I don’t have any information, but if you check at the front desk, maybe they can tell you.”
A couple of days later we called the nursing home and were told there was going to be a memorial service at the funeral home where her body was being prepared for interment. When we arrived at the funeral home the next day we were ushered into a small room where the memorial service was to be held. Looking around the room at the small scattering of people sitting in folding chairs, I thought of Rose’s plea “Please don’t forget me!”
The memorial service was short, and after the service we talked briefly with a couple of the other people who’d come. There were three or four people from the church she had attended when she was in better health, and a neighbor or two, and us, and Margaret.
Ten years have passed and we haven’t forgotten Rose. Good people are never forgotten.