Giving back to others has been a big theme in our family during the past couple decades. My mom is involved in just about every local organization between government, social service, education, and now medicine. Because she can’t retire – I wonder where I get it from – she just took a job running the volunteer program at the Jackson hospital. As a long time Rotarian, I have heard “Service Above Self” come out of her mouth countless times. She is a true advocate of everyone.
In an effort to be more selfless in my own crazy life, when asked if I would like to paint with the elderly at our local senior center this past week, I jumped at the chance. Words can not describe the feeling of gratitude I felt for being involved in such a sweet afternoon. Some of the group participated and could communicate, others offered a gentle smile and nod. Some looked right past, me lost in their own mind worlds away. I had been given the opportunity, even if it was only an hour or so, to provide a bit of joy on an otherwise rainy afternoon in someone else’s life.
I was in awe of the children who were so at ease with the seniors. I’ll be the first to admit I was quite intimidated, but felt more relaxed the more time I was there. A simple hand on their shoulder or quick rub on their back with a smile was all I could do for some, and yet somehow, it felt incredibly meaningful to them. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had family or if they were alone. Did they have visitors or were the staff their only companions. It broke my heart to think of these things. The children were offering their paintings to the elderly who could not participate, and one even got framed from the last visit. It was beautiful to witness the young and the old, the weak and the strong, the beginning and the end of life. I was humbled and can not wait to participate again.