It’s been many years ago now since that visit to the nursing home touched my heart, and yet the lesson it taught and emotion it evoked in me has continued to impact my life.

As we made our way into the nursing home, the pungent smells smacked us in the face. The smell of the noon meal in combination with cleaning solution was anything but pleasant. But as we made our way through the entry area, we smiled and said hello to the residents who looked up from their wheelchairs, hungry for more than the lunch sitting before them.


“Hi Grandpa!” we said as we walked into his room. He scooted himself up in his bed, smiled, and returned the greeting, always happy to see his grandchildren.


As the conversation began between our family, I glanced around the room. The cement walls provided no warmth or comfort, even with the scattered pictures taped on them by the resident’s families. The other three frail men who shared the room laid in their beds; all sleeping or at least giving the appearance of sleeping. My mind wandered as I thought about what the lives of these men may have held. It was if stories of adventure, laughter, heartache, love, and loss were locked up inside bodies that could no longer share with us all that the prior years had held. I wondered if there were beautiful love stories hidden in their hearts. Or perhaps some had fought in the war, and I was sitting in their room, living in the freedom I often took for granted because of their sacrifice. Maybe they had great adventures of vacations with their families at a near by lake or a distant mountain range. I bet they sat at the head of the table during a large family gathering, proud of the children and grandchildren who sat around them. Or maybe they were lonely. Maybe they didn’t have a family at all, and they were heading into their last days in the same manner the years before them had been.


My thoughts were suddenly jolted by a gargled, yet loud, sound from one of the men in the bed behind me. As I shifted in my chair and looked, I smiled at a lady in the chair next to him. Her tiny body sat close to the bed, her hand stretched across the blanket, holding his hand. As the nurse made her way past me, she whispered in my ear, “His wife comes every day and sits with him, even though he never opens his eyes or talks.”


Her statement spoke volumes, and I dismissed myself from grandpa’s bedside and pulled up a chair next to the woman. Above his bed hung a small cross, surrounded by some family photos. I began to talk to the woman, and listened to her as she confirmed what the nurse had said. His unintelligible moans were frequent, coming several times each minute. From the reactions of his roommates and others who went in and out of the room, it was apparent the moaning had become as normal as the sounds of the nurses chatter in the hallway.


It was after his wife shared about their family, and her daily visits to sit with her husband that she disclosed the words that would forever be embedded into my heart. It was if she was waiting to save the best for last. Perhaps adding an exclamation point to the end of a sentence.


“I don’t even know if my husband knows I’m here. He moans loudly, around the clock. He doesn’t speak…except for this. Whenever I sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’, he joins right in and sings every word with me.”


This frail body. This person who needed to be tended to for even the slightest needs. This man whose moans filled the room all day, every day. This man…this man would join his wife in singing “Jesus Loves Me”, without missing a word.


I left the nursing home that day in awe of the love and commitment of a woman to her husband. A woman whose love was obvious as she displayed evidence of the words, “in sickness and in health…til death do us part.” And I left with the Holy Spirit washing over me, filling me with the peace of knowing that even in our darkest times, even when it seems we can’t be reached, even when life seems to have gone on without us, He is still present. His love and His promises reach into the darkness, take hold of us, drawing us deeper into His presence, and reminding us that He was there all the while.


If you are interested in additional writings by Misty, you may “like” her Facebook page Misty Cramer, Author and Speaker. Misty Cramer © July 2019

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