Not too long ago, I supported my writing and storytelling habit by working at a nursing home, designing activities to promote the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of those who called this unnatural place home. Slowing down each day as I arrived, adjusting to the speed of life inside those doors, was an incredible learning experience, while working with residents with Alzheimer’s brought its own humbling lessons.
The layout of the place was unique. It was small, intimate, from the outside appearing like two longish white ranch houses, identical, facing each other across a green expanse. The perfectly centered gazebo carried on the surreal illusion of balanced perfection.
One beautiful soul drew me even more than the others, so sweet and precious – she reminded me of my grandmother, always a lady, down to her freshly applied lipstick and pristine penciled eyebrows. And – get this – she used to be a pilot. Of course we connected! Bless her heart, this beautiful woman never knew where she was, what day it was, where her family was or when they would return. It was my job, along with the others, to keep her happy and smiling, reassured, as she lived in her world. It did no good to speak to her about reality – my truth meant nothing to her. To connect with Miz Mamie, as I’ll call her, I had to go completely into her world, and speak the words she needed to hear. It took time to gain her trust, to calm her fear, but finally she grew to know my face enough to wave and smile each time I’m come in the door.
One day as we walked down the hallway together, she happened to look out the window of “my home” where she was “just visiting” – and saw the other building, carbon copy of the one we were in. Sparkling in the sunshine, it looked inviting, a home made to order. She drew me to the window, excited – look, look, look at that beautiful house over there. We should go visit.
I agreed with her. It looked lovely. I’m sure very nice people live there, and they might even have a cake coming fresh out of the oven if we arrived at tea time (3PM, for those who are interested). Why, yes, we’d do that someday. But right now, let’s go play some music, shall we? Remember how we love to sing together?
We started down the hall again, and then I stopped in my tracks. Even now the memory of the thought that swept through my mind feels overwhelming.
This is exactly what happens when we look for God. We look out the window of our soul, gazing across that open expanse, and see the most beautiful things, the most welcoming places – out there – out there – out there. How wonderful it would be to visit. To claim that space as our own in some small way.
But the truth is, what we’re seeing is a mere reflection – a carbon copy of you. Of me. Of us together, peering out that window, arm and arm, in love with each other. As someone once said, like the nose on our face, our eyes can’t get any closer without the image appearing to move away – because we’re all the same thing. All the same beauty. It IS us. We are IT.
Such a beautiful memory. Such a beautiful woman. So grateful to have shared that moment with her, and for the teaching she inadvertently shone into my world.
© 2015 Front Porch Rambles, Mary Batson
All rights reserved – especially the one to fly.