Life’s Lessons


The gift of just ‘being there’

During the lengthy period of my unemployment before I relocated to Fulton County, cousins offered a helping hand by having me and my roommate do some work in their home. This was a duplex in Indianapolis, and when we finished on one side there was work on the other side as well. We lived with them during the week and went home to Kentucky on weekends. I’ll always be grateful to them for that hand up they offered.

This went on for most of a summer so, as you might imagine, we became pretty close once again – a closeness that had been lacking as adult life took precedence. However, even after this closeness once again, our contact finally just stopped.

This summer Kathy, my cousin Mary’s daughter, called to tell me her mother was in a nursing home and not doing well at all. I studied about that for a couple of days and thought I should pay a visit.

Upon arrival at her town in West Virginia, I rented the last room in that particular motel for that night, and it was ground floor which I needed because Kelly was with me. Obviously, God had gone ahead and prepared the way.

We spent a short time with her mother and did get her to understand who was there. Then we went out for supper and a visit.

A month later, I made the trip again. This time, Kathy wasn’t able to meet at the nursing home, but her mom and I spent an hour reminiscing about shared childhood experiences – something she could not do with anyone else. Such a good visit for both of us!

Last week, I drove to West Virginia a third time. Knowing Mary wasn’t eating much at all, I baked a custard pie and took her a piece. If she ate it, it would be nourishing. But I couldn’t get her to understand I was even there. I didn’t stay long but told her nurse’s aide I was leaving the pie for her. Again, Kathy and her husband met us for dinner and a visit.

Since Mary’s times of alertness come and go, I returned in the morning before starting home. Had the same result for the visit but noted the pie was gone!

Now what? Shall I return even though Mary may or may not know I was there?

Yes, because my trip is now for Kathy. She needs family, too, and doesn’t have many such ties. As much as anything, these trips are gifts to Kathy – my gift of just “being there” – with or without custard pie!

Sometimes, that’s all we can do to help someone – just be there. Visit or not, share a meal or not – but be there. This means actually being present in mind and in body – not sitting there playing a game or texting on my phone – but being mentally, psychologically, and spiritually present.

If conversation is called for, be there. If silence is needed, be there. But the point is to give the gift of being there for them.

Sometimes we are called on to speak our belief in Jesus. Other times, we are simply to live it. Being there is living one’s faith.

The gift of just ‘being there’