“They call me ‘Why Not?’ around here.” That was her answer to my question about whether she goes to many activities at the nursing home where she lives now. “I’m just as happy reading by myself but when they come to my door, I say ‘Why not?’”
And why not keep a stack of books at hand? Just about any book seems to do. I find myself musing about what a Nora Robert novel touches in a 94 year-old woman.
Grace (I’ll call her Grace) is a rare delight in my hospice chaplain rounds. She is always up for a visit that promises to be filled with enjoyment of past memories of childhood and hearing tales that reveal her remarkable strength and independence as a woman in the early decades of her 94 years. Slipping deftly over whole decades spent raising a family, she nevertheless always matter-of-factly mentions the death of one of her sons and the geographical distance of the other. All is borne with acceptance. Why not? It is what it is.
Why not remember the good things if given the grace of good memories. Why not claim and repeat them time after time? If words are a source of joy, why not play with words? And so we play and pray together. “You know?” she says, “it’s kind of funny that people will say ‘Go to Hell!’ but they never say ‘Go to Heaven.’” We play with scenarios of saying "Go to Heaven!" to people who come to her door to visit or care for her. “Go to Heaven!” Why not?
I tell her it’s time for me to be going but before leaving I could sing her a song, or pray. “Pray!” No hesitation there as her two hands reach for my two hands. She sits straighter. We clasp hands and bow. I offer gratitude and blessings. In a way, we go to heaven and enjoy just of bit of heaven as Grace joins her strong confident voice to mine as we conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.
And why ever not?