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Sunday, October 27, 2013


One of the most colorful characters at the nursing home is a lady I'll call the Storyteller. She has a loud voice and speaks in a sing-song style that is grating to here. She dominates any room where she is present.

What's more, she tells the same stories, over and over. Once she starts with, "I had four brothers," we can repeat the rest of the story with her, word for word. I have to believe most of her stories are true, because the details remain consistent.

It comes as no surprise that she is not the most welcome table mate. I consider a meal spent listening to her my good deed for the day. She welcomes anyone who actually appears to care for her. She has led a difficult life and her mental problems keep her from realizing the care her family lavishes on her, making her lonely and unhappy. I sympathize.

A few months ago, she received a doll. She brought the doll with her everywhere. She laughed at the man who asked why she didn't feed her baby. Her granddaughter gave her an outfit so the doll could change clothes. Our storyteller slept with the doll.

One day, when she woke up, someone had stolen in during the night, stolen the doll and left her with her two-year-old daughter. Her mother-in-law had taken custody of her baby and the Storyteller just got her back. She showed off her baby to everyone, every bit as proud as a new mother.

I tried to point out it was still a doll. Where was the belly button? Pointless question, of course.

At lunch today she was discussing problems with another resident, our Dancer. She wanted to give the baby a bath and she was begging her husband to bring her a bottle.

The overnight decline into clear delusion has saddened me. Having crossed that line, I doubt she will return. Instead, she will continue to decline further and further into a world where past and present are intertwined.

With the Lord's strength, I hope I hope I can continue to be a friend, whatever reality the Storyteller finds herself living in.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I wrote on Facebook last night that I wanted to cry crocodile tears. I don't feel much better today. But I had several wonderful moments, which I will share (the crocodile tears are for a disappointment that I don't need to "feed" by blabbing here.)

For one thing, I met two new readers. Actually met them, in person. They came to the nursing home for other reasons, learned I was an author, and stayed to visit. On most days that would send me over the moon for a couple of days.

Then my son and granddaughter came to visit. I had a puzzle to put together with my granddaughter. She said, "I don't know how to do a puzzle--but proceeded to put it together.

Jaran (my son) sat behind me, his foot tapping my chair. I asked him if he was nervous. He said, no, he was always doing that. Son, son, have you inherited my restless legs syndrome?

When we finished the puzzle, Jordan asked I had any more. I said I had another puzzle I was saving for her brother because that was a little boy puzzle (24 pieces) and not a big girl puzzle (45 pieces) like the one we just finished. She must have liked me calling her a "big girl," because she asked me to get more big-girl puzzles. :)

And Dom won Project Runway, not the super-fashionable but ugly fashions by Alexandria (even though she is an inspiring, wonderful woman.)

And tonight I get to watch my beloved Broncos play on national TV.

So the weekend isn't all bad.

Visit with you next week.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I call one of my favorite people here at the nursing our Calling Bird. She is spunky and funny and sweet and we share a love of Jesus and hymns. Even today we sang "America, America, God shed His grace on thee!" at lunch.

Calling Bird is prone to loud, foul utterances when provoked. Her propensity to violent anger coupled with her deep love of the Lord and His grace is part of what I love about her. If I need living proof of God's love and grace, she is it.

But those angry words usually come out when she's giving voice to things that irritate all of us. It is an overblown response to a common irritant, something she might not have done before dementia set in.

It takes a lot for the Calling Bird to shock me. She did, though.

One day at lunch, she was exchanging barbs with one of the aides. Her final zing used the "N" word. If it makes any difference, the aide happened to be white.

That set me back on my heels. I spoke up immediately, telling her I didn't like it and reminding her of the reasons why. Sheepishly, she nodded her head, as if embarrassed.

The aide returned. He spoke to another employee. "You won't believe what she said."

The Calling Bird repeated her offensive remark--even louder than before. This time, at least two other people told her not to speak that way.

I see a certain amount of prejudice here. Seniors born before the baby boomers grew up in a time before the modern Civil Rights movement, into a former slave territory. The prejudice is soft-spoken. Why does so-and-so win so many Bingo games. That lady should sit at a table with those people.That kind of thing.

As a New Englander whose childhood hero was Martin Luther King, I rate myself fairly low on the scale of prejudice. Until a close friend pointed out an obviously prejudicial statement I made in one of my devotionals.

I described a former boss's materialistic attitude (he who has the most money is the most successful), contrasting it with what the Bible says. But in describing him, I called him "a New Age Jew" or something along those lines.

My friend said I was perpetuating a stereotype. "Would you saw a Baptist or a Catholic?"

Yes, I would.

But I thought about it. I wouldn't have said a Black or Asian or Latino or Italian. So I was making a critical remark against a specific race, as if his race made a difference in the attitude of his heart.

So the moral of my sad story is: racism pops up when we least expect it. When we aren't thinking about it all, not putting up the barriers our conscience has erected.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Today I worshiped the Lord through song. One of the churches that comes regularly always brings red folders with the same fourteen hymns. All of them, except for Jesus Loves Me, speak of heaven. So, I thought, why not a list of some of my favorite songs about heaven? Here are the top dozen, for or less leading up to number 1.

1. Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. No wonder the king stood to his feet when he heard this classic for the first time. I have heard it and sung it as both soprano and alto. The words are based on different verses in the 19th chapter of Revelation.

2. I Can Only Imagine. I heard this first at church before I ever heard Mercy Me's version. Even so, I was instantly transported to heaven, kneeling at Jesus' feet, imagining my quadriplegic friend Vickie Baker dancing before the Lord.

3. No More Night. This song became popular during the 1980s. It captured my heart's cry for the perfection and end of trials that is heaven.

4. Homesick. Mercy Me's other song about heaven made me long for my loved ones who have gone before me. I want to join my family, to standard shoulder to shoulder with my grandmother, mother, and daughter.

5. Amazing Grace--For the eternal life awaiting me in heaven.

6. I've Got a Mansion--a favorite from childhood campfires that only grows more precious with age

7. Will There Be Any Stars in my Crown?--a reminder that I want to bring people along with me, to have crowns to lay at Jesus' feet.

8. On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand--I love folks hymns. I remember hearing this one for the first time on a television drama (can't remember which one). It wasn't in our church's hymnal, or most others that I've used, so I was a little surprised to see it in our 14-hymn red folder.

9. When We All Get to Heaven--always a popular favorite, sung with rousing enthusiasm.

10. Christ the Lord is Risen Today--which is more about the second resurrection than about heaven but I love the triumph. "Ours the cross, the grave, the skies! Alleluia!" The same theme is repeated in the chorus "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High."

11. Oh That Will Be Glory for Me--to look on His face. Amen!

12. When the Roll is Called up Yonder--a rousing affirmation of assurance in my salvation. I'll be there!

What are your favorite songs about heaven? Let's hum them together, joining in anticipation of the coming day.