What would you do?
I have a dear friend who is deeply, emotionally attached to her wardrobe. Growing up in the Great Depression, and having only three plain cotton dresses that came from a charity group, she’s always defined success and self worth as being able to have beautiful clothes with shoes to match every outfit. As a hard-working business woman most of her adult life she did have a closet full of elegant outfits and fabulous footwear.
She’s close to ninety now, doesn’t drive, and lives alone. In recent years she’s suffered a few minor strokes, had heart problems, and fallen down more than a few times and ended up in the emergency room.
She refuses to even consider moving to a senior living center. Her adult children have not yet offered to provide the full care she needs. So local friends and neighbors are trying to help carry much of the burden out of love, even with their own full lives.
One Choleric, well-meaning friend offered to drive my friend to the store and buy a pair of safe, sensible shoes—with rubber soles—that would help keep her from falling down. My friend called me almost crying, “The shoes are so ugly! So today I did not wear them. I put on the cute ones that go with my slacks. I just want to be beautiful.” Then, “I hope I don’t fall.”
Uh-oh. She’s like a child now, rebelling against the practical slickers mother wants her to wear in the rain. Her friend only wanted to help and is simply tired of taking her to the hospital. All I could do was try to make her laugh: I said if she slipped and fell and died because of wearing the cute shoes, at least those who stood over her dead body would remark at how well put together she was. She would never be buried in ugly, sensible shoes. Sigh . . . no matter what you do or say, it’s often a thankless and difficult position to be caring for the elderly.
Our faith requires that we treat others the way we want to be treated; that we go the extra mile and even sacrifice our time, energy, and money to bring joy and delight to others—even in the little things. So do the best you can. Don’t take it personally when they are not happy–it’s probably not about you at all.
Is there someone in your life, young or old, who is attached to some old pillow, blanket, sweater, slippers, or other object that represents something very dear to them? If you can, don’t be so quick to talk them out of it or throw it in the trash. Is there any other way to get the job done and still keep them happy? Maybe, maybe not. Is there another way to put your RELIGION into that RELATIONSHIP?
Then do it.