Monday, August 18, 2008

Waiting to die

I visited one of my parishioners at lunch time because another parishioner said the first was dying. Well, she isn't dying today. She looked better than when I saw her last, was up in her wheelchair ready for lunch. She says the food isn't good. I saw it standing in cabinets for at least 45 minutes before they began to serve anyone. Plates were covered with those plastic plate covers they use in hospitals. Even the best food would become less palatable cold and standing for 45 minutes to an hour.

But, what struck me was my parishioner. 94 years old. She said she was the oldest in the room and then saw a woman who is 103. My parishioner commented that the 103 year old loved to read. I asked my parishioner if she liked to read. She was noncommital. I asked if she were watching the Olympics. She said she might tonight. I asked what she liked to do. "Nothing." Boy, I can't imagine anything more depressing that being stuck in a nursing home, no family and not liking to do anything. And it leaves me with nothing to talk about. I don't gossip about parishioners, so there really is not much to talk about. I talked a little about my sermon.

She talked about how depressing some of the other folks in the nursing home were and that they shouldn't be put with her and the others (who are less depressing, I suppose). I can understand separating those with dementia for their safety and the safety of others, but just because someone's physical deterioration is depressing doesn't seem to be a reason to separate them.

I think our next conversation may be about death. She seems ready to go, but I'm not sure. I am going to try to be open but not push the subject.