“You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. And I love you.”. That was my grandmother’s version of that wonderful old song. I heard it many times when she was in the nursing home. She sang it to me. She sang it to her roommate. She sang it to the CNAs who cared for her every day. She sang it when she was having a good day. She sang it when she was having a bad day. It was her way of expressing love to those around her. It was also her way of coping with life when things were not going well.
She told me that occasionally she felt like she was being treated roughly when CNAs were showering her or helping her change clothes. You can be sure that I had another conversation with the director of nursing every time she mentioned this to me. I asked her what she did when she felt like the CNAs were being rough. She replied that she sang the sunshine song. I asked, “What do they do when you start to sing that song?” She grinned and said, “They smile all over themselves.”
Mom understood all about catching “more flies with honey than vinegar”.
We have all done it at one time. We have all wished for things that are not possible. I wish I were taller, shorter, younger. For my grandmother, many things were not possible, going home, having a straight back that did not hurt, and being able to walk without a walker to name a few.
In all the months she was at the nursing home, she only asked one time to go home. When I reminded her that she had given me permission to take care of all her possessions and empty her house, she readily took back her request and never mentioned it again.
She could have whined, complained about this and many more things. She could have wished for her life to be different, to be happier, to be better.
But she didn’t. She understood and embraced a little nugget of wisdom in Phillipians 4:11-13, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me.” English Standard Version
My grandmother knew that desiring what was not possible would not contribute to her happiness, or the happiness of others around here. Being in her presence was always a blessing because she was always, always happy. In all things, even during the saddest of times, she had a countenance which showed a godly contentment and peace that ‘passed all understanding’.
This is yet another life lesson I learned from my grandmother.
I had her close by for almost a year. I saw her three to five times a week. We shared many meals, conversations, tears, and special beyond words moments. I had the privilege and blessing of putting lotion on her feet, washing her false teeth, and tucking her into bed at almost every visit.
She had a few month of increasing strength, then turned a corner and began gradually declining. As she got weaker, her pain increased. She talked less and ate less.
Six weeks after her 99th birthday she stepped into heaven. Yes, I miss her every day, and there are still hard moments, but I know she is where she needs to be.
In my next post I will share some of the things I learned from her during our time together.