At first look he looks like he belongs in a homeless shelter. He’s somewhere in his 80’s or older, he’s missing teeth with scraggly hair topped off with a baseball hat. He probably didn’t go to college or do anything important in his life. Just another man in my Grandma’s assisted living place. I am sad to say, that upon sitting down for dinner at her place I did judge him, I am ashamed to admit it, but would be lying if I were to say differently. What I didn’t know was that this man had so much more to share with me than just his company at dinner that evening. My first judgement that was crushed happened when I learned he was a professor… wait what? This old man sitting next to my was an ophthalmologist professor! Certainly not the uneducated man I took him for. After talking with him after dinner, I got to know him not by what he looked like but by his personality. He was a humorous, fun to be around, guy. What he was missing in looks, he made up for by with who he was in the inside, what matters most.
We were starting to leave as the festivities were wrapping up, and the old man called me over and in his hand was a picture of his house. Now at this point you are probably thinking, “Ok Katie, we get it, you learned about not judging people. What does a picture of his house have to do any thing?” Well, you see, there were two pictures, the first was of a house in England that looked like something from a storybook. It was adorable. He went on to tell me about how the milk man would come by and that he would borrow his horse and tie it up in front of their house to eat the grass down and then give it back. They got their lawn mowed and the milk man got a horse the was fed. It was like life in a fairytale.
But the second picture portrayed something completely different, not the nice town house in England, but rather a house, his house, after it had been hit by a bomb in a world war… That’s right, their beautiful house was crushed, ruined. But you see this man was a survivor. In spite of the fact that his family home was crushed and ruined, he went on to become a professor. Living all around in different places, including New Zealand. Fighting in yet another war.A and did I mention he had a British accent!
You see, these people at the end of their stay on earth have so much to share. They aren’t just old people wandering around. That assisted living place is full of living history, the people who made it possible for us to live the charmed life we do today. The lady who can barely talk, she has a helpful beautiful heart if you just take the time to listen. Despite the fact that she is facing medical issues, I have NEVER seen her not smiling… I mean, even when she was helping pick up trash she goes around collecting it with a smile. When she was walking around the dining room and nobody else was there to see her, she was smiling.
Next time you pass by them in their wheelchairs,or with their walkers… take the time to learn about them and the knowledge they possess. I could go on and on about Kenny and his love for hunting and woodworking, the women who has continued her legacy of gardening, her room surrounded by plants and potting soil in the door way. So take time to stop and smell her flowers and thank these people for the blessing they are.