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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Souls Across the Street

A few Westwinds folks went caroling Sunday night at Ridgecrest –the new care home/ health facility across the street from the church.

I wasn’t prepared for the vast array of personalities that would great me--how they would make me laugh, make me think, make me cry, give me perspective, and fill me up.

Let me introduce you to some of them (not their real names).

Roomba—we nicknamed her this because she scooted in her wheelchair constantly throughout the home like one of those vacuums that cleans your floor automatically. Just like those vacuums, this sweetheart kept running her wheelchair into the things that were in her way. Like us.

Dapper Dan—Dressed in a powder blue cardigan and a smile, Dan greeted us with a “meow” as he showed us his pet cat—a stuffed animal. I asked him what the cat’s name was. He told me it was “Cat.” We agreed it was really one of the best names you could give a cat.
Darling Darla—she pegged me for a guitar player as soon as we came in. Maybe it was the goatee and earrings that gave me away. She told me she had a guitar in her room and it took her about 5 minutes to learn how to play it. When we were done singing the first carol, she shouted out to all her friends. “Guys, this is what it’s all about . . . Jesus! GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN!” Many nodded in agreement and a couple shared her enthusiasm. She high-fived me about 10 times and begged me to come sing Easter morning and bring my guitar.

Sister Sara—she sat in the back with her head back and her hands raised singing the entire time. When I told her I could almost hear her up front she told me she knew I was lying but she was giving it her all. I told her it was her eyes that were singing the loudest. She smiled and agreed.

Smiley Sadie—she had big bright eyes. I told her that her eyes smiled. They got even bigger and she asked, “REALLY?” “Of course. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that?” She replied “noooooooo” as if I just told her the greatest secret she ever heard. She proceeded to tell her friends that she had smiley eyes.

Playful Pat—“Merry Christmas” I said as I held her hand. “You’re just hear to wreck everything” she said. “Did you have other plans this evening? I asked. “Am I bothering you?” “No, you just came here to break everything” she explained. “Oh, no. I promise you, I will be on my best behavior. I’m only going to sing.” She shook her head and said, “Yeah, right.” She was a tough cookie but at the end of the night she said it was a nice time.

Dressy Bessie—I didn’t understand a word Bessie was saying but she talked out loud the entire time we were there—only stopping when we sang. And, when we sang, she looked straight into my eyes and smiled. She held on her lap a baby doll that was sometimes cradled in one arm and sometimes sitting next to her. Her words were unintelligible but I could tell they were happy words and she wanted everyone to hear them.

Laughing Larry—he slapped his knee and shook his head with a giggle as we were singing. He giggling made me laugh a few times. When I shook his hand after he said, “I was hoping to meet you! You have a wonderful voice.” His handshake was more enthusiastic than most and I think he thought I was a celebrity.

Beautiful Betty—she didn’t say a word the whole night. She just kept crying—not the sobbing kind but the kind where tears slowly and continually trickle. When I took her hand and said, “Merry Christmas” she nodded in agreement.

Grateful Greta—she must have told me “thank you” 100 times. The thing that was intriguing about Greta was that, though she looked old, she somehow looked young. She looked youthful. It was like someone put makeup on a child to make them look old. It’s hard to explain but I pictured her going to her room after we were done only to put on her play clothes and go outside to run around.

Carol the Choir Lady—I am sure she sang in choirs as a youngster. She still had a bit of vibrato though it was labored. However, what she lacked in the vocal polish she once had as a younger woman, she made up for with enthusiasm. I could hear her singing with almost the same volume as the Westwinds carolers. She told me the singing was “very nice, very nice” as if she were the choir director praising her choir after a performance.
Eager Edna—she rolled out of her room in a wheelchair as we were leaving. She told us she missed the performance because she was getting ready for bed. We told her we would sing a song just for her. She said, “Well, I can’t see any of you but I will be able to hear you!” We sang Angels We Have Heard on High for her and she took it all in. Then she asked if I would come in her room to hear another song. She pointed at the snowman on her desk and asked me to take it in the hall and push the button. The dancing snowman sang “The Peppermint Twist” for us. Edna giggled. I told her I would be praying for her this season that she would feel great enough to do the peppermint twist all season long. She laughed, thanked us, and apologized to us all that she was in her nightgown for our “performance.”

We headed across the street to deliver a blessing and left wondering who had the bigger blessing—them or us?

Lord, thank you for the souls across the street. I pray for them and their families this year that you would meet them in a new and potent way.

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