After my bedrest for a pressure sore, I changed my routine. I stay in my room except for the noon meal and an occasional activity (when we have them). I get up later and return to bed (not to sleep) earlier. And I changed dining rooms, to spend my primary social time with people who can carry on a conversation. God reminded me that I can't encourage fellow residents if I don't spend time with them.
I'm getting more work done. I don't feel as isolated as I did when surrounded by residents with dementia.But, I'm missing my colorful friends. I need more stories of my songbirds and mutterers and other, newer friends.
This week I have eaten at different tables, getting to know different people. And rediscovered--
Friends. Companions. Kindred spirits.
The youngest member of our company (late twenties, but paralyzed) recently moved into the room next to mine. I am used to her loud voice and demanding spirit. However, she has been very quiet. She says she lays in bed, not watching television, just getting more and more depressed. I see her faults (and I'm sure she sees mine), but I'm in a position to be a friend. And that's what I offer. I love her. She loves me. She called me her mom, because her own mother refuses to visit.
I realized, when things don't go our way, or we don't like the latest rule, we both get angry. She projects her anger outward (and gets into trouble). I stuff it inward, and get depressed. But we both struggle with anger about our situation. I have been in shoes similar to hers. She cares for me, and in turn, I feel validated because she cherishes me.
Today I sat at a different table. A man I have never spoken with a great deal immediately started talking to me. "I knew, as soon as I met you, that you are a nice person. You never have a mean word to say against anyone else."
What a kind thing to say. I told him my first memory of him. At a Bingo game, he was on a winning streak. But because he can keep up with the numbers--because he is black--because he won about five times that day--vicious rumors started that he was cheating. I didn't tell him that. I'm sure he knows. But he laughed at the memory.
And then he shared Paul's testimony that he had learned to be content. He cheered me by not quoting the obvious verses from that same chapter--Philippians 3--that I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me and that God will supply all my needs. The secret lies not in what I have, but in my attitude about what I have.
Fellow travelers on the road to Somewhere.