Today's visit took me to a care facility I haven't been to before, to visit with an old friend and long time member of our church. Over the past year or so, Alzheimer's disease has gradually taken away much of his ability to communicate. But up until a few weeks ago, he was still coming to worship on Sundays and a men's bible class on Thursday mornings.
How quickly things changed. He recognized me, but just for a moment. He really wasn't able to understand when I attempted to give him communion. As we prayed, he squeezed my hand a few times, but didn't join in with the Lord's Prayer. Not only was he confined to a locked wing of the facility, but he was also trapped in a condition where he just couldn't express himself.
As we sat and visited, other residents of that wing wandered over, stood there and watched. When I said, “Hello,” they smiled and said, “Hello” in response, but all with blank stares. I felt like I had traveled to a different world, one where time and space didn't exist. Each day is pretty much the same here.
The caregivers here are amazing. Their patience and compassion is extraordinary. What a blessing they are to each of the residents!
As I drove home, two things kept running through my mind. First, even when your mind doesn't work the way it used to, there must still be a faith connection with God. After all, nothing can separate us from His love. So visits and prayers and the Word are still profoundly important in situations like this.
Second, I hope that a pastor will come visit me if and when I'm in a situation like that. Up until now, I've done just about all the visiting. But one day, I'll be the one who will be visited. Every time I head out to go and see someone, I try to make it the kind of visit I hope to get one day.