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A Life Lesson

Hanging out with disabled seniors would never have been on a list of the things I most wanted to do in my life. Yet, finding myself with a mom, whom I love more than life itself, becoming a resident at a long-term care facility in Wilkes County, North Carolina over four years ago, I was catapulted into this environment through no choice of my own.

I have to be honest and admit that I didnít expect my momís stay there to be a life-changing experience for me, but itís turned out that way. Itís not because my mom is no longer able to live on her own, or that the hard decision to put her in a long-term care facility had to be made. No, those are external changes. The ones Iím talking about have occurred internally.

For the first couple of years, my mom ate all her meals in her room, where I would find her when I got off of work. Then one day as I was heading toward her room, a CNA informed me, ďYour momís in the dining room.Ē Sure enough, thatís where I found her, sitting at a table with three other ladies. I was pretty surprised, as she hadnít mentioned that she was thinking about making this change. And, I have to admit, I didnít like the change at first. I was used to the one-on-one time I got to spend with my mom while she ate dinner in her room. Now I had to share her with three others who said very little, and pretty much sat staring at each other.

Little by little, I began warming up to these other ladies, and they to me. I started learning their names and what they drank with their dinner. When I felt it helped the CNAís, Iíd get the drinks for those at my momís table, as well as those who sat at the tables nearby. I began seeing imperceptible smiles as Iíd bring the correct drinks without having to ask what these women wanted. This made them feel special, and in return, I began to see beyond their disabilities and the sometimes unattractive physical attributes for which I was initially turned off by.

As God continues to widen my sphere of meeting and getting to know residents, especially if it involves getting ďup close and personalĒ with residents who I didnít have any desire to know, He is little by little opening my eyes and my heart to their beauty and their uniqueness. God has encouraged my heart to become a conduit through which His love can be demonstrated and felt. And through my experiences at the facility and with the residents, God has enlarged my heart and life with greater amounts of patience, acceptance, understanding and love. I am blessed.

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