April 12, 2005

Sometimes you have to bend down

Sometimes looking into a person's face is not enough, you have to bend down. I always greet everyone in the nursing home, where I care for an elderly Alzheimer friend. Of course this is not our custom on the streets of Miami. But I feel everyone can use a "Hello!" there, employees and patients alike! It feels right and there is a strange camaraderie among staff, family and patients.

Most days I pass a gentleman sitting in his wheelchair, in the breezeway entrance. He's younger than most clients, suffering from the long term effects of diabetes. His legs pain him and the nursing home diet is very unappealing, so he doesn't eat as he should. I was once a nurse, I understand the changes, and the effects diabetes brings to every part of his body. But truthfully if anyone looks closely, they would notice too, for his face daily reflects how is is feeling.

I reach for his hand as I pass, and inquire about his health. I tell him I will continue to pray. He reminds me that it makes a difference. One day he sat quietly reading his Koran, this time I bent down below his eye level, noticing he was doing poorly. After some brief words he held my hand tightly as I rose. "Thanks for asking" But as I walked away he called, "Thanks for your love too!"

This is something I have learned...especially with kids and older people, get below their eye level, it empowers them to speak from their heart.

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