For more than two years, my children and I made weekly visits to an area nursing home to see our friend, Virginia McCall.
We didn’t know Mrs. McCall before starting our visits. I had wanted the children to be involved in a service activity, so I called the activities director of the nursing home and asked if there was someone we could “adopt” – someone who needed extra company. And then we met Mrs. McCall.
At first, I thought this would just be an opportunity for the children to do a good deed, and in the process learn how to communicate to older adults, especially those in poor health. What I didn’t realize when we started, though, was how much Mrs. McCall would bless us.
Often when we visited, the children would tell her about their week and what they’d been doing. Sometimes they would show her a new toy or photos from our latest trip. But when we started asking about her childhood, we discovered something new, as she shared with us a history rich in hard work and strong values.
One day this past fall, when we went for our usual visit, the receptionist at the front desk told us Mrs. McCall was in the hospital – she had suffered a stroke. She was doing well for a few days, then took a turn for the worst, so I loaded up the children and we headed out to see her. When we arrived, she wasn’t responding. I talked to her a little, and each of the children held her hand and said “hello.” It was actually good-bye, because about an hour after we left, she passed away. I believe she was waiting to hear from the children, and then she was ready to go.
Mrs. McCall lived a good, full life to the age of 92. While my original intention for visiting had been to enrich her life, I discovered through our visits that she had greatly enriched ours. By being with her, my children learned compassion, friendship, and generosity; by talking with her, they learned thankfulness, diligence, and contentment. Thank you, Mrs. McCall.