I have a friend who travels the back roads of rural Missouri. These are the roads crowded narrow by encroaching forests, where one slip of the wheel would send her airborne toward eternity–curvy, twisty roads cut through the Ozark Mountains. Over the years, she’s had her share of misadventures, both weather and wildlife varieties, a totaled car or so. Regardless, three times a week she gathers her Bible and calendar and hits the road.
My friend, on the far side of eighty years of age, is a hospice worker. In these times of government cut backs, chronic unemployment and increasing economic isolation, my friend is often the only visitor to these housebound and chronically ill rural dwellers.
On arrival, she settles into the nearest rocker and lets the conversation flow. For an hour or longer she in engrossed in the stories of these forgotten souls near death. She laughs with them. She cries with them. She prays with them. She freely gives hugs of love and friendship and empathy. Then she is off steering her little Chevy through the mountainous roads to the next house of need.
Life stories authenticate and validate lives.
My friend’s attention to the homebound and the lonely is beyond price. Hindsight is the greatest enlightener of a life well-lived. Daily existence can be tedious. My friend is bearing witness to the dignity and value of lives often devalued by those who cannot see the precious stones buried in the minutiae of daily living.
Mark Twain once remarked that, in his experience, there was no life that was not an interesting story. According to Twain, Inside every ordinary person is an extraordinary story waiting to be told. An African proverb proclaims the message a little stronger. When an old man dies, a library turns to dust. Truly, It goes without saying that if it goes without saying, it is gone.
Remember, someone in the future is waiting to hear from you.
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