Young people are a special gift to the elderly, especially to those living alone in their homes or in retirement homes. Senior citizens who live in retirement homes may be lonely, even though they live among others. Some of them suffer from an emotional “sickness” wherein they may be tired of all the challenges in their lives. Visitors, especially young people, can help alleviate this “sickness.” Visitors of all ages can give senior citizens a precious gift – the gift of your time and your interest in them.
From the Editor
It happened a number of years ago at Easter-time, before I had entered seminary. As the evening of dinner and visiting with family began to draw to its close, I said, “I think I’ll go home now,” intending to return to my apartment in Ypsilanti. My mother, looking pained and somewhat indignant said, “This is your home,” meaning my parents’ home in Saginaw. Oops.
We have all seen TV and newspaper images of people who have no homes and are living in makeshift shelters on the streets or in public parks. Who cares for them? Where can they find decent places to live, even if temporarily? Pope Francis would remind us that they should receive our love and care. One thinks of the dreadful things that are happening to the refugees and victims of terrorists in the Middle East.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I met one of the gentlest souls I have ever known. Her name was Bertha, and she was a resident in the county nursing home at which I was volunteering as part of my confirmation service project. At that time, Bertha was, at the age of 89, the oldest person I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. The lessons she shared with me that summer have stuck with me despite the fact that over 30 years have since elapsed.
In the creation account found in the Book of Genesis, we learn that all was well in God’s creation. Everything was good. The last sentence of Genesis, Chapter 2, tells us: “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
Chapter 3 of Genesis opens up with the serpent slithering into the Garden tempting Adam and Eve. They ate of it and we are told, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” (Gen 3:7)
Although it was just a cold can of corn, it might just as well have been the finest caviar, based on how quickly she was eating it and the look of utter satisfaction that was on her face. It is an image that will stay with me for the rest of my life.