The following is a story from my nursing home ministry. I really respect the privacy of those I serve and so I only post stories with the actual persons names if they have passed away.
I met Paige (that’s spelled with an ‘i’ she points out to me) in Green Bay. (I later learned that her full name was Catherine Paige). When I met her she was 97 years old, born in 1909. She told me she grew up in Illinois on a farm. Later, she lived up in the Marrinette area.
She grew up in a Christian home she says. She knows right from wrong. She tells me that she loves people. She doesn’t like to talk about herself and I suspect that is because it hasn’t been the easiest 97 years. I sensed that she was really broken, and now… lonely. She is a really sweet lady who made quite an impression on me. She “adopted me” as her grandchild and says that I am a good Christian boy. She asks me “why did you come here? Do I know someone? Do you have family here that you visit?” I tell her, “No, just you Paige. I came for you.”
Being around that kind of love is something special. She is very affectionate always holding your hand or putting her hand on your arm…that kind of thing. You get a sense that when you’re with her that she delights in you. She says that young people need to learn how to live right and make good choices and follow God’s path.
She started to tell me about her son, that he is away in California and never visits. She tells me about her kids who aren’t following God and the tears come. I hold her hand and look into her face as she cries for them and tells me, “ I just wish they knew, I just wish they knew.” And then with a resigned sigh she says, “But it doesn’t do any good to get all emotional about it.”
“God hears your sighs and counts your tears,” I tell her. “I never heard that expression before”, she says and starts to smile. “O yes it’s true, he knows every last tear.”
I look forward to seeing Paige every time I visit – which isn’t often enough. Every time I come for a visit I look for her, sometimes she rolls in a bit late during my concert and I greet her and she always has something real nice to say like, “I wish there were more young people like you sharing the love of Jesus”. She comments also about how lovely it is to hear Gospel music.
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; Devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; They find rest as they lie in death.” Isaiah 57:1-2
April 9th, 2010 – I was looking forward to seeing Catherine Paige again today. I arrived and was informed by one of the residents, “your friend passed away”.
“Paige?” I asked. “Yes.” She had just turned 100 this last summer. “That’s too bad.” I said. I realized that I had a responsibility to the rest of them to play my best and encourage them the best I could.
Later in my set I took a moment to talk about Catherine and dedicated a song that moved me when I first heard it. The song is “Abide with Me”.
“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide.
When other helper’s fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!”
I love that last line because I often feel quite helpless and it is such a comfort to know God is my help.
After the concert a man wheels up to me, and, as a tear fell from his eye, he says to me, “that was beautiful.”
Catherine Paige was an example of love to all who knew her. I hope some of those “young people” are listening. (I wonder who would qualify as “young people” to one who is a hundred years old?) Your grandma says, “Learn to live right and make good choices.”
ps. Please pray for our Hymn CD we are currently recording (which happens to include Abide With Me). We want to send it out to all the Nursing homes in Northeast Wisconsin. If you would like to donate toward making that a reality, you can donate at our website: www.reflectworship.com
Thanks for listening, Daniel