Have you seen the Facebook posts and pictures of individuals connecting with their family members in nursing homes closed to the public due to this national pandemic?
I have seen pictures of husbands and wives standing outside nursing home windows, writing notes to their spouses on pieces of notebook paper or small marker boards. I saw a grandson simply sitting on a windowsill and singing to his grandfather. I even saw people holding up grandbabies in windows for the great grandparents inside the nursing home to get a glimpse of their sweet babies.
What a precious sight!
But for me, these are also heart-wrenching pictures because my mother and father are confined in an assisted living center only a few miles from my home.
Thankfully, my parents are together. So even though they cannot leave their nice, comfortable living quarters, and none of us can visit them, they are not totally alone. They are together just as they have been for more than six decades.
As President Trump and his team keep reminding us, my parents and many other Americans currently secluded in nursing homes are our national treasures, and they deserve our protection. After all, they are members of what is termed “the greatest generation” of Americans to ever live. Men and women who protected our nation through World War II. Then, their generation carried us into the most prolific time of economic and technological growth America has ever known.
Many of these Americans, like my 84-year-old father, were born in the midst of the Great Depression. So as children and teens, they never knew anything but hardship and poverty. They watched (and some young teens even participated) as every able-bodied American man donned a uniform and headed overseas to protect and defend the world from Hitler and his henchmen.
During that period of history, they suffered lack and adversity we have never known. Afterward, their generation demonstrated that despite any trial, our nation offered the promise and potential of a good life, as long as a person was willing to work hard.
And work they did! On farms, in factories, and everywhere else they could, this generation worked to give us a better life. A life of provision, ease, and a standard of living never before seen on a national scale.
In only one generation, they took us from the shotgun shacks and fields of sharecroppers to the moon and beyond. They gave us technology that brought the entire world to our fingertips almost instantaneously. They created amazing new medicines, some of which conquered polio and stemmed the tide of cancers once considered an immediate death sentence. And all the while, they did it for us – for the next generation of Americans.
Now, here we are in the middle of another national crisis, and for many young adults, this pandemic is the very first, full-blown, all-out crisis of their lifetime. Many of them cannot even remember 9/11.
But have no fear, our elders are a testament to the fact that Americans can survive anything as long as we look to God for direction and bind together in unity against the unseen foe called COVID-19. And mark my words, we will get through this, stronger and better than ever.
But in the meantime, we need to take the time to thank that great, great generation. And remember that many of them are facing this pandemic alone, either shut in nursing centers or their own homes.
No, it’s not the first tough time they have ever experienced, but it might be their first time doing so all alone. And even though some of them might have wonderful caregivers and even companions, they still are facing this pandemic from a very different place than the rest of us.
For those of us who love them, this is also a very difficult time. I openly admit that my sister and I shed our share of tears when the order came to shut the doors of my parent’s assisted living center to all visitors. We prayed together that it was not the last time we ever got to see them or be held by them.
In fact, when my precious sister took them a carload of groceries and supplies and left them literally 15 minutes before the order came to shut the doors, my parents were fully aware they might not see us for a while. So these were some of the last words my dad said to her, “But I just want to hold you!”
In answer to my daddy’s cry, here is my prayer for him, for my mom, and for all members of our great generation:
Father God, we hold our parents and our grandparents up to You, and we place them in Your hands for safekeeping. Thank You for all they have done in their lifetimes to guard us, guide us, teach us, and love us. Bless them abundantly for every seed of love they have sown into our country; please give them a rich, bountiful harvest of Your love in this trying time.
Remind them, O God, that You alone can give them eternal life. Because of You, they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of Your hand. Therefore, because You have engraved each of them on the palms of your hand, we simply plead the blood of Jesus over them.
And we thank you, dear God, that during this time, while we cannot hold them and they cannot hold us, Your hand will lead us, and Your right hand will hold us all. Amen.
WAYS TO POSSIBLY HELP OUR ELDERLY CITIZENS:
Follow all CDC COVID-19 protocols for their sake as well as your own.
Be on the lookout for elderly neighbors who might be alone.
Reach out through social media to any elderly friends. Offer assistance, such as setting up online deliveries of essentials. Or offer to pick up/deliver necessities such as food or medicine.
Check on them often via phone. (My parents love Facetime conversations with the grandkids.) Take the time to have real conversations. Ask questions; listen to them; and look for clues as to their real needs.
Remember, they were taught to be independent and not rely on others. Offer help repeatedly, but do so in ways that help them maintain their dignity and honor.
Recognize their value. Thank them for all they have done for our nation, our communities, and our families.
Call local nursing centers and ask how to help. (Some centers may be fine with letters, cards, and pictures. Others may see them as a potential carrier of germs. Do not be offended by that possibility.)
Pray for our great generation daily.