When I was doing nursing home ministry I met many wonderful and sweet people and one of those people was named Rose and this is what I remember about our friendship.
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A stroke had left Rose unable to stand, walk, or hardly speak. In spite of her circumstances she had a dignified quality about her that let you know she had always been a woman of order and neatness. Suddenly Rose found herself in a nursing home and she was barely sixty years old. Nothing fancy about that nursing home either, in fact it was little more than a warehouse where one waits to die.
All she had ever had was taken from her, and now this. She had no strength or the desire to fight one of those whom she loved most in this world, her own daughter.
Over the weeks as I befriended Rose a bond grew between us much like that of a mother and son. Gradually I learned she had been widowed, but had children scattered around the country, all holding important positions in big companies and they all had beautiful and vibrant families, but Rose was there in a nursing home.
Due to the stroke it was almost impossible for Rose to speak in a coherent manner and so we used to sit together and she would always reach over, take my hand and invariably ended up crying. Sometimes for an hour we would sit while Rose cried and poured out her pain and suffering and God only knows what else in her tears. And so Rose and I communicated, probably better than words ever could have done for us.
Being a Christian, I always carried a Bible with me when I went to the Nursing Home, and one day, Rose managed in her difficult way and gestures to ask me, if it was a Bible that I carried. I informed her it was, that it was a King James Bible, and I asked her if she would like me to read it to her. Immediately tears flooded Roses eyes and dripped down her face and she sobbed and nodded her head vigorously in the affirmative. So I sat and I read the Bible to Rose, and Rose squeezed my hand and cried while I continued to read.
We did this for several days and one day I went in and Rose was smiling and she said she wanted to know about Jesus. So I told her about Jesus, and read the Gospel of John to her while she wept, at times breaking into deep heart wrenching sobs. I joined Rose and we cried together while the others wondered if we had lost our minds I guess. It didn't matter, Rose needed someone to cry with her, and so I did. Rose struggled to ask me if she could have a Bible, no, it had to be a King James Bible she insisted. She had Hebrew Bibles at home wherever that was, but she wanted her very own King James Bible.
A couple of days later I gave Rose a beautiful large print King James Bible with her name inside with a note and scripture verse for her. We didn't read the Bible that day, we laughed and we cried, and Rose held my hand.
Two days later the Nursing Home Director calls me at home. Seems Rose's daughter, the only one of her children who lived locally, was livid with me for giving her mother a Christian Bible. How dare I, she told the director. As it turns out according to her daughter, Rose and her family belonged to the Jewish faith, and do not follow Jesus Christ. The angry daughter threatened a lawsuit and many ugly things and she had Rose's Bible returned to me, and I was ordered to stay away from Rose and to never speak to her again.
When I would see Rose in the Nursing home after that she was always crying or sleeping in her chair. If she saw me look at her she cried and waved me away while turning her head, and I could see her tears falling on her lap.
Rose had lost so much. Her children had married and moved away, and her husband had died an early death and she was severely physically disabled due to a massive stroke. Rose had nothing but a warehouse existence in a Nursing Home. Her daughter came faithfully every week, but I wonder if she knew how long Rose's weeks were. Finally Rose had found someone that could share her pain and she found a Saviour that touched her heart and gave her a new hope, and both were taken away from her.
Rose died three months later. No medical reason they said.
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. ~ Deuteronomy 5:16
Rose simply gave up. All she had ever had was taken from her, and now this. She had no strength or the desire to fight one of those whom she loved most in this world, her own daughter.
Even though her intentions were most likely to protect her mother, she failed to honour her mother or her mother’s wishes. Rose was in her right mind and very capable in that department, only her body was impaired. Without any prompting from me she had obviously come to believe in Jesus Christ and made a decision to seek Him as her Saviour. I was later told her daughter had scolded her for her disloyalty to their faith in reading a Christian Bible.
This incident broke my heart and still does after these many years. We should stop and remember that elders are not children and deserve respect in all situations concerning their life decisions. The command to
Honour thy father and thy mother is not only in the New Testament, but is also in the Old Testament which the Jewish faith accepts. It is unfortunate for Rose that her daughter did not heed God's commandment.
Similar incidents are played out around the country on a daily basis and like this one, almost certainly lead to early death. Rose had nothing else to live for or to hope for. Her children were too
important and too busy to be a part of her life except for this one daughter who rarely came any day but Sunday afternoon. We cannot live our elder parents lives for them. We may care for their bodily needs and step in to shore up their physical limitations but should never forget they are still an individual person with feelings. Most of us will one day be in similar circumstances and should ask ourselves what kind of care and treatment do we want in our old age. If you are, or will be a caretaker for someone, be they parents or otherwise, please remember what happened to Rose because of a lack of respect.