Lunch with Dad at Table Fifteen

I see wheelchairs everywhere…some leg-powered some arm-powered.  The room is packed with people waiting expectantly for food.  A few have dozed off, chin on bibs.  One lady has her head on the table…seemingly lifeless.  There’s not much conversation.  Recorded Christmas music issues from a boom box balanced on a wooden podium in the background.

I observe two sorts of staff: indifferent and attentive…the attentive ones passing out an occasional hug to grateful residents.

The diners come in all shapes, sizes and conditions…some with their wits, some obviously without.  As far as I can tell everyone except the staff is white…no blacks or Hispanics in sight.

We are joined at table 15 by Mary…impatient for her food.  Soon she will be impatient to be taken back to her room complaining of back pain.  I try to talk to her but she is not in the mood.

Behind us an orderly softly sings Christmas carols with each phrase in a different key.

Finally, the trays begin arriving and the lady who had her head on the table comes to life and begins doing slow-motion wheelchair wheelies.

The food is nutritious and good.  I am grateful.

As lunch is consumed (not in whole but the part) the diners disappear one-by-one back into the maze of halls to find their rooms.

Is this my future?  I don’t aspire to lunch or any other meal in such circumstances.   Nevertheless, if Jesus tarries it is probably the lot of many of us.  Maybe I’ll be the one with my head on the table.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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3 Comments

Filed under Aging, Health Care, Nursing Home, Random Thoughts

3 responses to “Lunch with Dad at Table Fifteen

  1. Kay Malan

    I feel that I must say something in response to your post because a) it is thought-provoking, and b) I want you to know that you are not alone in your 0bservations and feelings. Because of Christ, for me death will be welcome and not feared, but I shudder at the thought of passing through the sometimes agonizing and humiliating process of getting there, and pray fervently that it may be avoided. May the Lord help to shorten the suffering of the people you love so much and give you strength to bear it.

  2. Bob Chapman

    Hi Dwight,

    When I am home in Australia I visit two nursing homes. I have been visiting residents there for years and have observed the conditions that you have aptly described.
    Yet when I am ministering in places like Nepal, India and other Asian countries I have noted that the elderly and the very elderly continue to contribute to family activities.
    Recently in a remote village on a 6500 foot mountain ridge in Nepal I saw elderly woman carrying water and wood up steep mountain sides without any hint of fatigue.
    Maybe we have got the formula wrong in the West…mmmm?
    Bob

  3. dwhitsett

    Thanks Kay…I know you know. I think we are often guilty of artificially prolonging life when it has lost any quality. When I come to the point where I am just existing…please God, take me home! One is reluctant to let go of one’s parents but it must be done sometime. Mom is leaving us bit-by-bit through the process of dementia while her body remains relatively healthy. Sure doesn’t seem fair but I guess God never promised that life would be fair.

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