She wakes up before the sun - mostly because she goes to bed so early. Parkinson's makes the getting ready for breakfast long and cumbersome. She can't maneuver the way she once did and takes breaks between the brushing of the teeth and the combing of the hair. It's all just too much to do in one fell swoop. Once she's gotten herself together, she sits and rests and waits and then presses the assist button hanging on a plastic chain around her neck. She waits some more - then someone comes to get her.
A little bent over and a little cocked to one side, head bobbing, hands gripping the handle bars on her walker, she and her aide take the long walk to the dining room. She sits at a table alone until her counterparts, other women without their husbands but with an aide, come in alongside. They eat. They talk but can't hear each other. She finishes her oatmeal and then presses her assist button again. She smiles above the pain and waits - then someone comes to get her.
She's been alone in her apartment for 5 hours now, waiting for 12:30 p.m. That's when she goes to visit her husband of 61 years. He lives just around the corner and down the hall in memory care. She doesn't take naps or sleep. She sometimes talks to her daughter on the phone, but she mostly waits until it's time for her visit, and when it is, she presses her assist button again. She waits - then someone comes to get her.
The visits, they're hard on her, delightful for him. When she's delivered to his side, he comes alive. "Oh, I thought you'd never come!" he says. They sit in the parlor and watch TV or snooze until activity time, where she helps him play bingo, then paint a birdhouse. His unintelligible words no longer bring her comfort as they sit and wait for the paint to dry. It's the loneliest of places for her to be, but you won’t find her anywhere else each afternoon - until she grows weary, presses her assist button again - then someone comes to get her.
The evenings are the hardest. Alone with no plan of what to do, she slips into bed at 6:30 when most of us are eating dinner. Daughter visits are the only welcome interruption. Twelve hours will pass, and the routine will begin again. Body undependable, lover gone, hope hanging on the promises of God - she waits until He comes to get her.
(I have more thoughts to share below, but this is the end of my time for Five Minute Friday. I'm writing this story today for Five Minute Friday. The word prompt today was LONELY. I must confess, I stretched my minutes to eight!)
Do you have a story about loneliness?
I've experienced loneliness in my own life, but I've witnessed the most heartbreaking loneliness amongst the elderly. Their suffering rips at my heart. Being alone yet dependent on others multiplied by chronic illness can result in suffocating loneliness, but Jesus willingly enters into these moments. His provision comes in a multitude of forms. He ministers through His Word, through daughters, and chaplains and neighborly strangers. He comes in on the feet of anyone who willingly goes to the lonely places of others. Sometimes, being the answer to the loneliness of another can provide the answer to our own loneliness.
Psalm 102:7 says, "I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof." Have you ever witnessed or experienced that kind of loneliness before? Are you experiencing it now. Can I listen to your story? Can I pray for you?
I'm also sharing today with Spiritual Sundays, Faith Filled Fridays, Fellowship Friday, Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, and Womanhood with a Purpose