Saturday, August 12, 2006
Yesterday afternoon I went to visit Gordon's Oma and her sister Martha. They live in an assisted living complex in Abbotsford, both having recently moved down to the Fraser Valley from Vernon to be nearer their children.
My sister in law's Dad lives in the same complex so I dropped in and had a quick visit with "Grandpa Janz" too. (When your brother gets married when you're 2 1/2, you end up with a "third" side of the family...or at least I did)
Most common question of the day? "What is your name again?" (hee hee) And the answer of course had to include WHY I was there..."I'm Andrea, Gordon's wife..."
We visited and checked their fridges and cupboards to see if there was anything they needed from the supermarket...Oma decided she didn't need anything so Martha and I headed to Save-On...on this little outing the question became "What am I getting here again?"
It must be terrible to know that you know, but not be able to find the right bit of information. I told them that it's okay, the younger folks can remember today and yesterday, but their job is to remember all the stuff that happened before we were born...as without them, we'd never know about it!
As I started to say my goodbyes, they began to talk of their loneliness...one finally asked, "Why am I so lonely?"
Before I could think about it, I found myself telling them that they are created in the image of God and thus long to be connected with others in relationship. When they are lonely, it is that image being reflected...
I didn't mention that perhaps we are ALL lonely to a certain extent. We are all around people quite a lot of the time, but not very many of us have the relational connections we long for, though from time to time we get a taste. So really, they aren't much different than the rest of us. They live among all these people, eat with them daily, congregate in little sitting areas to set puzzles and play scrabble or just to chat about days gone by. But at the end of the day, whether they've had ten visitors or none, they're lonely. They long for more.
I go about my day, experiencing Gordon's companionship in profound and quotidian ways. I have friends and family with whom I interact throughout the weeks and months. I work and play and rest. And still there is a longing.
The difference is partly that I am young and mobile and mostly independent. Oma and Martha are now dependent on others to get them beyond the complex in which they spend all their time. They are looking back on most of their lives, while I can look backwards and forwards...
At one point, they asked me what I do for work...(they were to ask this question several more times before the afternoon ended) and when I described designing and facilitating worship services, Martha exclaimed, "You're a pastor!" I replied, "Well, yes, but I don't ever preach." Her response was priceless. "But the part you do is even more important than the preaching."
No kidding. Loved that moment. :)