Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dead Ends and Absolutely No Exits!

CORE THOUGHT: Discouraging words are all around us so there is no need for us to add to the atmosphere of despair.

I went to a nursing home this week and as I was leaving that particular hall, there was a sign on a door leading to the outside made to look like a traffic sign with the simple phrase: DEAD END! As if that wasn't bad enough (and I am not making ANY of this up...), this door had a window which revealed a chain-link fence gate with a bright red sign with white letters saying ABSOLUTELY NO EXIT!

I had seen an aide walking with a resident who was moving very slowly with her walker...slowly enough to have no trouble reading these warnings. I wonder what they think when they see the words...DEAD END or ABSOLUTELY NO EXIT...and then make a U-turn to go back to their rooms?

No, I'm not going to make some rosey statement about heaven waiting for them, or anything else that overlooks a real need. I just wanted to put a reminder out there that people are struggling in ways we can't imagine, and we just need to pay more attention to them. Without exception, everyone in a nursing home is valuable, and many of them have amazing stories to tell, if you will just take time to ask them!

I remember visiting a veteran years ago, whom I had visited many times before, but this time I decided to ask him about his memories of World War II, and I came to find out he was in the Battle of the Bulge! For anyone too young to know, care or remember this battle, search for it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
It was one of the last big battles of WWII in Europe involving over 1,000,000 soldiers (600,000 Americans!)...

Anyway, we need to take time to really listen to folks...and not just people in nursing homes...plenty of people feel caught in DEAD END situations with a sense that there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXIT. They need encouragement, not pat answers...maybe they don't need any answers, just someone willing to listen.

PS...if you want to read a really great story...a true one...about a very special nursing home lady...get John Ortberg's book, The Life You Always Wanted and find the story about Mabel (pp. 22-25), or search for Mabel's Story, Ortberg at www.google.com. The following blog has the story posted...don't know how long it will be there, but here it is: http://michaelgrose.wordpress.com/2006/09/20/mabels-story/

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