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Meg's Other Family
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Photo: Dreamstime
“Meg” was four years old when her father died, leaving her and her mother to take care of each other. She was what some people called a “slow” child, and when she became an adult, she exhibited no marketable skills. Life went on as usual in the little apartment with Mom until Meg was in her 50s and Mama had a heart attack.

Following the heart surgery, it became Meg’s turn to serve as caregiver under Mom’s direction. Things seemed to get better for a while but then Mama confided, “My heart is not really getting better.”

Meg pondered those words and a dreadful reality set in. “Mama, I am going to lose you!”

Mother and daughter held each other in grief. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Mama. I’m going to take care of you,” Meg promised. And she did, until the end came and she stood alone after the service wondering who would take care of her.

That’s when Mrs. “M” came up to her, hugged her, and announced, “I’m going to be your second mother. I can’t take her place. No one can do that. But call me if you need me. If you need to talk, I will listen.”

She hugged Meg again. “You might not feel like eating sometimes, but it’s important to eat three times a day. If you need someone to bring food, call me.”

Frequent Screams of Anquish

Meg remembered Mrs. M’s kindness and the meals she brought. But the emptiness of the rooms brought frequent screams of anguish. Too often she forgot to eat. After she was found unconscious on the floor of her apartment, authorities placed her in a senior-care facility.

That’s where I met her. She was struggling with rules and the demands to socialize and participate in unfamiliar activities with unfamiliar people. Reduced staffing meant that no one really had the time to listen to detailed repetitions of life stories. As a volunteer, I was able to take the time.

I once heard Pastor William Lovelace state: “The organs of love are the ears.” Listening is often the best kind of love we can give to others. By listening and observing I discovered Meg’s special interests—horses, cats, cardinals, and pictures of bright, shiny jewels.   

I started clipping magazine pictures and ads I thought she would like. Meg then cuts and tapes them to sheets of paper. A few other volunteers bring magazines and calendars to also serve her craft. Most of us have fallen under the radar of the “socialization” check list, but each of us has become a bit of Meg’s “other family.”  

While our first motivation may have been to ease Meg’s loneliness and help her adjust, her pure joy at welcoming us and bestowing her “presents” is what brings us back. She seems to have found a purpose and value in life. Isn’t that what “family” is about?

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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