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Friday, December 07, 2007

Friendship Creates A Little Bit Of Heaven On Earth


by Kevin Scott Collier
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When my Grandfather died in a nursing home almost 30 years ago, he left a roommate named George. I cannot recall his last name, but I will never forget the impact he had on me. It was not so much of who he was, but rather, the environment that became the end of George's life.

The morning I arrived at the nursing home to collect up my Grandfather's belongings, George sat upon his bed with a solemn demeanor. He muttered, "This is the sixth roommate I have lost since I came here."

Somehow, a moment of personal grief began to change for me. I looked at George and began to wonder why I had never witnessed any visitors for him. My entire family visited my Grandfather on a regular basis, but I had never seen a single visitor for George.

I said goodbye to George and exited the room for what I thought would be the last time. But, during my walk down the hallway to the entrance of the nursing home, my curiosity peaked. I stopped at the courtesy desk and asked the receptionist, "Does George ever get any visitors?" The answer was "No."

She explained a couple of George's adult children occasionally stop at the courtesy desk to drop things off for him, but never venture down the hall to pay him a visit. I asked, "Why?" She replied, "I don't know."

I departed the facility, but thoughts of George lingered. What had he done to his family to deserve this? Or, did he have to do anything at all to deserve this abandonment? The situation really bothered me.

Two days later I returned to the nursing home and entered George's room. He was surprised, and a bit confused. "Did you forget something when you left the other day?" he asked. I replied, "Well, I didn't forget you." A friendship blossomed on that day.

My Grandfather died a man with many friends. He went to heaven in peace. I began to see over the next year and a half while visiting George that Grandpa's presence in that nursing home was his exit to a better life, but George's stay there could have been a hell on earth. There should be a little bit of heaven on earth for all God's children. Even George.

I still recall showing up at the funeral home for visitation when George passed away. All of the people there stared at me. They were strangers. They exchanged whispers..."Who is HE?"

Who WAS I?

I was George's last friend on earth, that's all.

8 comments:

Donna J. Shepherd said...

It does make me wonder why George had no visitors. How sad for him, until you came along to brighten his day, and show God's love. Thanks for sharing your experience.

E Bussey said...

What a beautiful reminder of how important our lives can be to others.

Karen said...

A sobering but encouraging lesson for us all. What an opportunity God opened to you, and you took it! None of us are too busy or too important to take time for the "Georges" God leads across our paths.

adam brown said...
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Jennifer Gladen said...

Kevin,

That's a beautiful story! When I was a teenager, I worked a couple hours at dinner time in a nursing home. When we were finished, we usually had extra time before we had to leave.

I spent that time visiting the residents who seemed to have few visitors. One lady, Theresa, I visited often. Even when I stopped working, I'd stop by her room when ever I was at the Home ( my mom worked as a social worker there).

One day, I got a call and they said that she was dying. I came over right away and sat with her. I just held her hand. There were people around her. I recognized one or two who'd visit now and then. But some of her family I just met for the first time.

Just before I left, one of the relatives stopped me and thanked me for being there for Theresa. I still think about her often, and she's been gone well over a decade. Thanks for reminding me of the nice times I spent with Theresa.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Kevin

What a touching story. I would urge everyone to pay a visit to a nursing home, it is a rude awakening.My stepfather was in a nursing home. We saw a lot of lonely people there.

Store up your riches in Heaven.

Thanks for the reminder, Kevin.

Shari

Debra A. said...

Thank you for this reminder. My grandmother spent many years in a convalescent home. While we visited her regularly, many others had no visitors. We tried to share our time with as many as we could. I am so glad you went back to see George....

Deb Bailey

Ashwin said...

Maybe to some extent, George was holding on so that he could meet a friend like you.