One of the messages is scribbled on a paper napkin and another is written on the inside of a delicate, hand-made card. Mom’s favorite Bible passage is inscribed on lined paper, each verse written in the shaky printing of an elderly friend. Each card and letter tells a story of how my mother has impacted each of their lives, and every one brings tears to her eyes.
On her glass-top table, there is a hefty stack of cards that sit an arm length away. The things mom needs the most and the things that hold the most value, are within reach. Her world has become smaller and smaller as cancer takes a toll on her physical stamina and the cards transform her back to earlier days.
There are childhood memories shared and stories retold. Recognition is given to the woman who was a 4-H leader, a Sunday School teacher, a mother and their friend. Mom laughs at the outdated clothing and hairstyles that are reflected in pictures that are sent, and she becomes more animated as she recalls the stories and we talk about the letters.
It has become a ritual – her late afternoon walker-assisted trek to her mailbox at the end of the hallway. In a day filled with mundane tasks that are becoming more difficult, she still has the use of her legs. She can still retrieve her mail and her hope is that there will be yet another card. And if there is a card, she can once again, go back to an easier time, she can relive her life, and she can once again laugh!
A few weeks ago, I told my Facebook audience that my mom was receiving hospice care for the terminal lung cancer she was diagnosed with four months ago, and I shared the experience I had when my father died in 1999. After his death, it was wonderful to receive cards that were filled with funny stories about him, and memories his friends shared with me.
It was helpful to my grieving process to receive those cards, but I always found myself thinking, “I wish he could have read these!” That’s why I asked mom’s family and friends to send cards NOW – she isn’t gone yet, so why not send them to her?
Since my request, cards started coming from members of our church family, our relatives, and many of my friends who have known my mom throughout the years. When they ask, what is it they can do, I respond, “Visit if you have the opportunity or just send a card and share a memory in it.”
JUST SEND A CARD – A small act of kindness that brings great JOY to a terminally ill elderly woman, who lives each day just waiting to read another story, and to travel back in time!
What have you done to bring joy to an ailing loved one? Share your simple acts of kindness below so that others can learn how to spread joy…