Tuesday, November 28, 2006
About six years ago I went through an incredible Life Management program created by Dr. Phil. It truly was life changing in many, many ways. While going through four months of the training, my class was assigned a project, a service project. It was something you had to do on your own or you could go with other members of your class. I chose to do my alone and I visited not just any kind of nursing home but a home specifically for Alzheimer patients. Before visiting I called the home to speak with director so I could find out which resident needed visiting the most. I wanted to know if there was someone I could meet that did not have visitors often. The director told me about a lady named Gracie who did have relatives but none that lived close by. Her visits by family was close to none. One afternoon I left work and took and extra long lunch so I could go and meet Gracie. When I arrived the director of the home walked me back to her room and explained that Gracie would be very happy to see me but that she would not remember me if I decided to come again. Instantly I realized how serious this disease was.

Gracie was originally from Fort Worth, Texas. She was a beauty with her gorgeous white, curly hair. Her smile was soft and gentle but unforgettable. I wasn't sure how to act, what questions to ask or how to make her feel special so I decided to look around the room at her pictures. There were no pictures of family. Instead the room was filled with pictures of her and her late husband. The pictures were black and white and obviously taken many years ago. Gracie was close to eighty years old and the pictures seem to be of her when she was in her twenties. As I sat in her room and commented on her pictures, she told me that she loved to dance. She explained that her and her husband used to go dancing almost every night when they were young. For a while we talked about dancing and then she asked if I had children. "No mam. I have only been married about six months. But we do plan to start trying as soon as our house is finished being built." Her face seemed fascinated by my response. I don't remember exactly what she said but it was something about marriage and how exciting it was to be a new bride. I then asked her about her husband and she was full of stories. She did tell me that they never had children but she wanted them badly. I am sure there was a story behind that but I had never spent time with an Alzheimer patient before. I wasn't sure what I could ask, whether or not I should have asked or anything else. It was a great visit, an unforgettable day so I decided that I needed to go back and see her again.

The next time I went, I took a girlfriend from work with me. We took a long lunch and headed over to the home. On this day, Gracie was different. She seemed to be having a rough day. Her words, her countenance, her stories were completely different. The hardest thing was her not remembering me. It was hard for me to sit and talk with her without having tears come to my eyes. Sadly, I did not go back.

This morning I was on my way with the kids to meet friends at the mall. I had not thought about Gracie in a long time but this morning the memory of her came flooding back when I passed the Alzheimer Home she stayed at. My life has changed so much since the time I met Gracie. I am no longer a newlywed, we no longer live in the house we were building when I met her, we have two kids and one due in January. And in four months I will have a 31st birthday. Wow! Passing the home, I could not help but wonder if Gracie was still alive. I thought about all the women inside the home that used to be just like me. They all ran around town, shuffled the kids to and from, grocery shopped, made countless dinners for their husbands and struggled with feelings of inadequacy. Some days they woke up feeling pretty, some days they felt the extreme opposite. They had spats with their husbands, problems with their kids and daydreamed of a long, hot, bath without someone standing at the door yelling, "Mommy!" They struggled with their pasts, they struggled to forgive and they constantly had to remind themselves that their value came from God and God alone.

Now these women no longer battle with their toddlers over what they will eat. They no longer worry about keeping the house clean, getting supper fixed or finding the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Instead she walks into a room forgetting what she was there for. She struggles to remember familiar words. She even has trouble remembering where she once lived or where she lives now. She can no longer balance a checkbook, she struggles to be social, she forgets where she left her watch and she may have even forgotten about her very own children. She had no idea that one day her memories would be taken and the incredible life she once lived would only be a dream.

Today Gracie is tugging at my heart. She is reminding me of how special my family is, how important it is to make today count and how beautiful I am as a woman. I'm quite sure Gracie had days where she felt like she couldn't get it all done. Whether or not she had children, she for sure felt the pressure every woman feels to be somebody in this world. And she was somebody! She had a story to tell. She was a friend, a daughter, a wife and maybe a mother too. She had something to offer, something to give, something to gain and I pray that she found it before that horrible disease took over her life.

We never know what the future brings. There is no way to know what will happen to us, to our Mothers, to our girlfriends. But for me personally, I do know this. I want to be a woman that not only shares my story, but I pray that I will give others a story to tell. May my smile bring warmth to those feeling discouraged, my eyes bring hope to those feeling hopeless, my hands bring help to those in need, my heart bring love to those needing to feel loved. And most of all I pray that my words will bring life to those feeling desperate. May I truly show them the love of Jesus in every way possible.

I am just like Gracie. I have a purpose, I always will. A day may come when I am not sure who I am. I pray it doesn't but I pray that I will make every second of every day COUNT.

As wives, daughters, mothers and friends, we stay busy. We are women, that's what we do. The world doesn't run very well without us, does it? We run all over town, we start new traditions, we make memories. Even when it seems routine and even when we feel like the ugliest gal in Wal Mart, we are women to be praised. We owe it to ourselves to live it the fullest! Serve our husbands and children with all we got and spread the message of Christ in every single thing we do.

This is my purpose. This is what I will set out to do! My memories of Gracie reminded me of this today so, I pray that my renewed spirit can bring renewal to you. We really are daughters of a king, so let's live it!

Won't you join me?!

  posted at 5:02 PM

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Kelly Ann said...

Today I spent the morning in a local nursing home with my life group. We made Christmas center pieces for their dining room and then spent some time visiting the rooms. You are so right...the stories they told were awesome...from a different time! It was a blessing to be a part of!

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Munchkin Land said...

Beautiful post today, Mandi, beautiful and heart-warming. Its a wonderful reminder of who we are, our purpose for being here, and never taking it for granted. =) Thank you!

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the reminder to live in the moments and embrace who we are and our purpose!!! i am so guilty of taking so much forgranted. thanks!



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