A little more than two years ago my parents and Jake and I started volunteering at the nursing home in town calling Bingo. I couldn't go the first night because my mom and I were at a concert, but I will never forget Jake saying how much fun he had and how much he liked it. I went the next Thursday and fell in love...we have been going ever since and I still look forward to it every other week.
I used to be afraid of nursing homes...I didn't like them at all. I hated to think about the things that happen in some of them, the neglect, just the sadness of it all...but it doesn't have to be sad. I mean, sure, a nursing home is where I watched my grandmother deteriorate...and to this day, if I think about the day we had to put her in one, I cry. I will never, ever forget her face as she realized that she wasn't coming home with us. My heart broke into a million pieces....and I know my mother's heart was breaking into a million more. It wasn't what anyone wanted to do, but my frail grandpa could not take care of her and her Alzheimer's was becoming dangerous because she was leaving burners on and getting into other people's cars. My grandmother was the strongest person I have ever known and as I am getting older, I see that strength in my own mom. My grandmother went from stage one of Alzheimer's to the last stage very quickly. She soon could no longer walk, talk, or feed herself. It just killed us all...this was not the strong, funny, amazing, loving grandma we once knew. Every once in awhile we would see a sparkle in her eye or she would smile and there were times I just knew she knew what was going on....how sad that she could not express it. My grandma spent her last years in a nursing home. I learned to not be afraid of it, to realize that yes, there is sadness, but the happiness that we could bring to some of those residents is all worth it. I spent a lot of times with other residents while at the nursing home my grandma was in, I heard a lot of great stories, and for some residents, I was the only visitor they would ever see.
This brings me back to us volunteering. I think a big part of me does it for my grandma...thinking about her and how I would have loved it if someone would have visited with her when the family couldn't, how it would have been nice to know there were people spending time with her when we couldn't. These people at Homeview have become like family. We may only call bingo twice a month, and it may only be about an hour an a half that we are there, but it means a lot to them. They have come to count on us. I can't imagine being in their position...especially our friend Richard, who is 59 and in the nursing home. He has his mind, but has a few physical limitations. He can't leave and do the things he wants to do...but he makes the best of it...I just can't imagine. These people love Connor, they have seen me all through my pregnancy, they all made guesses when Connor would be here, and they are watching him grow up. I love this. We have lost a few friends along the way, one being our very special friend Clive. I still find myself wanting to walk to his room after bingo to have our visit, and I miss our visits dearly, but Clive was more than ready to be with God and I have no doubt that is where he is! It may seem a little dorky that Jake and I look so forward to calling Bingo at a nursing home, but that's o.k. These people never fail to bring a smile to my face...never. They help me to remember it's the little things in life that matter. They brighten up my day, yet they probably have no idea they do. As much as they look forward to us coming and helping out, I look forward to it just as much! Here are some pictures from our group!!!