Having recently retired from my duties as chaplain at a St. Cloud nursing home, I have found an old saying to be true: “When people find out you’re retired, your phone will start ringing off the wall!”
Well, the phone is actually still on the wall but one of the calls I received was to ask if I would consider writing for this blog.
I’ve been asked to write a little about our senior population. I have worked with this “greatest generation” for over thirty years now and I have learned so much from them. They are awesome. They are so faithful and faith-filled.
Spirituality takes on a whole new position in our lives when we reach a certain age. When sickness or injury requires nursing home care we tend to take everyday things more seriously. Our faith becomes more of a priority.
I have witnessed many, many life stories over the years and walked with many wonderful golden age persons to the time of their departure from Earth. I’ve prayed with their families as Mom or Dad moved on to heaven, the next step in the journey of life.
I recall one individual, a fine lady in her nineties who was near death after living in the nursing home for a number of years. She was a close acquaintance of a local priest and so she had actually received that wonderful sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick several times over the years. Nevertheless she was alert enough to request that Father come and anoint her one last time — “the Last Rites,” so to speak.
The priest was delayed for some reason and so I was called to come and be with her in her last minutes. She spoke to me quietly of going to see Jesus. I assured her that she was ready to go and that she would be with Jesus in Paradise today. Just before she breathed her last breath, her face lit up and practically glowed. As she looked up at the ceiling, a huge and glorious smile came across her face and I firmly believe it remains there forever. The priest arrived shortly after she passed and remarked, after seeing that smile, “I don’t think she needs anything from me!”