For the past two days, I have slept, eaten, been served and talked and talked to my sweet, kindred spirit friend, Gwen. In between as I sipped my tea in her living room, she would get her mom out of bed, bathe her, cook for her, dress her, undress her, feed her medicine, and all the other things a 96 year old needs to do, but cannot manage.
Throughout, I have heard a gentle, loving voice. "Hi, mama, you are dearly loved today."
"Sweet precious mama, are you hungry? You sure look pretty today."
Patient, kind, tenderhearted, for 10 years, as her sweet mom's brain has escaped into other regions beyond her grasp, at least most of the time.
Last night as we both put her to bed, there was a smile from ear to ear. "I love you, quietly slipped from her smiling mouth." Her crystal blue eyes sparkled as if she had secret delight, but we realized she was delighting in us laying with her and kissing her soft cheek.
"Gwennie, you are so amazingly patient and kind and content, even though now you have to stay here 24/7. How do you stay so joyful and content, knowing you have been in this place for 10 years," was my sincere question as I witnessed amazing strength and patience through out these days, as all of the days of the last years I have visited her.
"My mama has lost everything dear to her over the years. She saw my brothers die too early, she lost all of her relatives and friends one by one. She has seen tragedy. But through it all, she resisted bitterness and chose to be joyful and give love. And so, even the model of my 96 year old mom has spoken to my own heart. If she can do it, I have learned how. Every day she greets me with a smile and gentle soul. It is what she practiced and so it was easy for me to copy."