by Ken Langenbrunner
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Ramblings of an Old Man:
This following little story is from an observation I had made while visiting my mother. At the time, she was in need of more care then I or my siblings were able, or qualified to give to her, therefore, she was living in a very nice nursing facility. No matter how nice the facility, the sadness and guilt remains as to having this need in the first place. Our humanity comes with pride, dignity, and the strong desire to do things for ourselves, and those qualities are very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain inside these walls of care.
It was during one of these visits that I was sitting out in the hallway observing other residents. I was watching their eyes, their expressions, their utterances, and the sadness overwhelmed me to the point of writing down my thoughts, thoughts as to what was possibly running through the minds of these imprisoned bodies that no longer functioned as before, no longer served them as in their youth. There comes a time when two distinct things seem to happen to all of us: we either have a strong mental ability with a limited, weak body, or a strong capable body, but the loss of mental faculties. Here is what I observed:
Their faces…etched with expressions of sadness, pain, anguish, of despair, maybe even guilt, and many…of fear. Lost in a fog of emptiness, loneliness, misery, anger; unable to retain or even regain control of the one thing they so flippantly and wastefully wasted…life! Where did the years go? They shuffle down the hallway, grasping the handrails “dearly” for balance and steadiness; or in wheelchairs, slowly, painfully struggling to move an inch at a time, no where to go, no where to be, so why hurry?
Most of them are dependent on others, with a loss of self-help and independence. Discouragement comes from forgotten thought in mid sentence, embarrassed by bodily mishaps, disappointed by another passing day of not one familiar face from the past to welcome or to bring a cheery glow to their countenance, Their seems to be much frustration, confusion, impatience, sadness, and at times, tears. From their hollow, glazed over eyes, you can almost see reflections of memories from a fading past existence; images displayed of a more mobile time of life, when one could bend down to an open armed grandchild or great-grandchild, or even lift them up to receive a loving and heartfelt hug, so as to show the desire and passion that still lives inside this body so devastated by time, environment, and sins from the past.
Maybe they are even haunted by past memories, past thoughts of a never ending youth, egotistical ideals, and a future still to come, still to be charted, still time to find ones self! Then, unfortunately, reality sets in, that veil of mist has thinned out over the passing years to allow one to realize: “Wait, it’s ME in this debilitated body, in this wheelchair, tugging and pushing ever so laboriously on these stubborn wheels, pedaling my feet to help me along the way. “ It’s ME shuffling along the handrails that are attached to the walls, hoping and praying with each step and grasp to make it (without falling) to my destiny of four walls, and endless idleness.
For those who have given up, the wick of life slowly burns to the bottom of existence, their last breath, from millions before, passes through those dry, wrinkled lips, and life as they know it …ceases. A stare of disbelief lingers in their eyes, as the remaining warmth leaves their cells, and the dimming light of consciousness slowly fades to dark. How sad this observation would be if this is where it actually ends. But for many of us, this end is only the beginning! Death is also a part of life, and many of us that believe in a Redeemer, will actually continue on to a far greater and lasting and more rewarding existence! Many don’t believe this way, and that’s their freedom of belief and choice. My only answer to them would be, if I’m wrong, then I’m out nothing, but if I’m right…WOW!
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