A Lesson from a Nursing Home

Youth. Health. When do we ever realize how important they are? When do we stop and notice how agile we are, how lucky we are to be able to care for ourselves? How much does independence affect our lives? How often do we say “Thank you g-d; I can walk on my own feet, hear with my ears, and feed myself with my very own hands.” Sometimes it takes a stark contrast to put us in our place and show us how much there is to be thankful for.

It was a regular, hectic Friday morning when the call came in. My grandmother had gotten up in the middle of the night, and taken a bad fall. She was to have surgery sometime that day, and if everything went well, she would be sent to a nursing/rehab center until her bones strengthened. The weekend was tense and frightening; surgery always is and especially in a woman of her age.

A week later, Friday morning, Grandma was released and sent to the Rehab Center. She acclimated well to her surroundings, and a couple of days later was even willing to go to therapy. That was what everyone else was doing. The next week posed a slight problem; none of her children were able to spend the weekend with her; and my sister and I were therefore nominated to be there all weekend.

Down the block from the home, there was an apartment available for any relatives of the center’s patients. My teenage sister and I arrived there late Friday afternoon, put down our few belongings, and quickly hurried over to Grandma’s room.

Walking into the building, we were greeted by the strong antiseptic smell that all old age centers bear. The lobbies and building in general tried to have a homey look, but the wheelchairs, walkers, and canes quickly reminded us where we really were. We came into grandma’s room, took the arms of the ...

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...ntinue our shift at the center. Grandma was all dressed when we arrived; there must have been a really friendly and caring nurse on duty that morning.

Sitting together in the synagogue, we began to pray to ourselves. “How nice,” I thought, “The citizens now have something else to fill their day with.” A couple of minutes later, a woman was wheeled in by a nurse. She asked my sister to take out her prayer book and find the place for her. I followed closely, and sadly noticed it was upside down- the wonderful lady couldn’t see! Thankful for my own eyesight, I began to look inside and with much concentration continued to pray.

The rest of the weekend passed similarly, uneventful, yet so much to learn from. Grandma recuperated and is doing beautifully on her own, yet her fellow senior citizens are still there, each living in a body that slowly betrayed them.

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