It's been an emotional week of sorts. Sad, joyful but a bit heavy hearted.
We have a friend at the nursing home, Howard. Our thirdborn Michelle has grown close to Howard through the past year or so. I had too as of late.
I've written about Howard before, he is a darling, born in the Victorian era, a cute little German, if you could shrink him down, and put a elf hat upon his precious little head and place some pointy toe shoes on his cute little feet he would be a perfect specimen of a garden gnome. His smile is a boyish toothy little grin, a bit like a muppet wide grin, sparkling mischievous blue eyes. Plump little belly. Cute.
Michelle quickly found out that among the fact that Howard had never married and was an archeologist traveling the world over, no children...He did not believe that there was a Heaven or hell. A problem. Could be an eternal problem obviously.
The photos of his middle age years look like something from Lawrence of Arabia as he is pictured upon a camel with white covering over his head among his archeologist peers in some exotic dessert setting. Another photo has a wonderful photo of he and his sweet little dog both dressed to the hilt in U. of Texas garb. Darling. Lighthouses are his thing, he has two large beautiful matted and framed prints hanging around his bed. He is from a bay town like I am. In fact my German great uncle owned a car dealership there. Maybe we are relatives? Who knows.
Through the past year or so at least, we visit him once a month with our homeschool friends who have that heart for the Lord to bring joy and Jesus to one of the most forgotten mission fields ever.
Before we knew it Michelle would stop by and bring Howard a Bible, she would visit many times when she was in town. Howard also started wearing a huge cross necklace, very earthy and pretty but masculine. It was stolen and all the nurses banded together to buy another for him...MIchelle remembers the day she and the nurses were diligently searching for it....
...Searching for the Cross.
This past Christmas we were so excited to bring Howard his special Christmas card and a little snowman ornament to hang on his mirror. No Howard though, the nurses assure me he'll be back.
Off and on this has been the pattern.
Finally a couple of months ago, I notice two hospice cards on his nightstand. He tells me he's not doing so good.
This past week we walk in his room, and he is worse. Much worse. Oh Howard...I rub his forehead and tell him to rest. Michelle is crying, we all are inside. It was shocking to see his condition. He barely lifts his head and looks to us with barely opened sleepy eyes, oxygen going strong. The hospice nurse comes in and tidies him up, we step out for a while and when we re-enter we ask if he's talking today, she tells us: "He said thank you".
That really touched my heart, because it is so Howard. This man is suffering and he makes sure to say, thank you.
We sing around him, Holy, Holy, Holy and Blessed Assurance. He barely lifts his head, I tell him, "Howard, Jesus is in my heart and I hold my palm out to him as my heart, and I place my palm on his heart...I tell him " Jesus is in your heart? He's in your heart (as i hope for a nod)... He can be in your heart too if He's not already." I'm saying this with the softest voice ever... (I never-ever want to be abrasive with this) Only God knows the heart. I realize to many this is a private affair and I greatly respect that but yet I want to do my part, it's a great responsibility talking with someone who is dying. He later asks me if I have any problems? I couldn't believe it....I briefly tell him softly something that has been on this mother's heart so he would see, yes, others too have problems... I also knew in his fatherly way, this made him feel better to listen to maybe something that I am battling; a concern over my youngest daughter's health along with the fact that there are some who treat some in our family so cruelly having no idea what is going on behind the scenes. It's shameful. It's cruel enough even if there were nothing going on behind the scenes trust me. It's a good thing our family has our eyes on Jesus, the true Lover of our souls.
And may I add, these loves in the nursing home are the best friends we could ever ask for.
A good book to read is "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A Kempis for inspiration on that. : ) Or the Bible (of course!) if reading through the New Testament. God is with the humble of heart true enough. The real blessing is there trust me. Jesus is there. We won't seek approval of man if we do that trust me. We see how vain the gerbil wheel of life truly is and how we can stay far, far away if we hang on to God Almighty. You see, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Yesterday morning my husband and I were tossing about what we would do for church, homechurch, the old church, a new church? The idea had occurred to me to visit Howard at the nursing home and my other sweet buddy too. I think it's good for hubs to go, the men need men to pray for them many a time. There is just something about two guys shaking hands and patting each other on the back.
My suggestion bore witness with the family, before we could turn around good, we were dressed in our skirts, Hubs went to loafers and dress pants and praise and worship was being sung on the couch and off we went in the car listening to a great Zac Poonen sermon in the car. We made a family event out of it, eating at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then to the nursing home.
When we went down the hall to Howard's room. A nurse I recognize tells me:
"This man needs prayer" She points to Howard's room.
A nurse had Christian television playing quietly by his bedside as he lay alone, oxygen perking.
Howard didn't look very good, his color was worse than Wednesday, it is strickening to our hearts. He couldn't speak at all this time, but he tried. Bless his heart, he tried soooo hard. It seemed he said, help.
We tried to help, we tried. Tears ensued trust me, especially little Michelle. I call her little Michelle but she is twenty two. This little gal turns into a woman when she needs to, trust me. Trust me.
My husband prays over Howard, we sing Jesus Loves Me. I adjust his gown making him comfortable. That is what a mother's hand does best I think. It comforts, it touches, it feels pain, it feels joy, or it should I think.
Pray for Howard, he could cross over to the other side any time now.
This is all for now. The song at the top ministered to me greatly earlier today.
Listen if you can, perhaps it will minister to your heart too?
Here is a picture that I took a couple of weeks ago from our front porch. It reminds me of Heaven.