Jesus in the Nursing Home

It’s been hard for me to get back into the rhythm of the Saturday-night nursing home dinners. I love Mrs. S. {who was always the heartier eater since I began the palliative feeding project} but I hate how Mr. S. isn’t ever there any more when I go to the nursing home. That’s what it feels like: he isn’t ever there any more.

Yes, that’s very stupid, because Mrs. S. is still very much there, and she still appreciates a good meal and a good cup of coffee, not to mention a little company. I’ve been back a few times, and then several times I’ve cooked and my mom has brought the meal to her. Once I accidentally set her steak on fire and we had to cancel, not to mention that my dad got to play volunteer fireman for real (again).

This past Saturday my mom brought her some peanut butter cookies I made and a burger from her and Mr. S’s favorite local joint–

This was 'their' table.

I hate not going to eat with Mrs. S. And I know that I have to put my sadness at Mr. S’s absence from the nursing home aside and just do the thing I know is right. I’ve stopped in with donuts and coffee on a weekday, but the Saturday night rhythm is off. I feel sad when I go there and get on the elevator for the 2nd floor, instead of turning left on the first floor for Mr. S’s room.

Here’s the thing, though: when I finally do get ‘it’ under control (‘it’ being my nerves, or sadness, or whatever it is that makes me feel like staying away) I feel gloriously happy at the end of it all. Nursing homes are ugly and they have weird smells and depressing sights and sounds, but Jesus is right there, too. And hanging out with him, my mom, and Mrs. S. makes for a great Saturday night, even if there’s a gaping Mr. S-shaped hole there, too.

My dad and the boys, imitating a picture of Mr. S., who was my dad's sponsor in joining the volunteer fire department. You can see the black band my dad (and the other Star Hose members) wore on their badges for the months following Mr. S's death.