Life’s Lessons


Surprising changes abound for Kelly and me

Several years ago, Kelly and I were invited to come to the Sacred Heart (nursing) Home in Oregon, Ohio. I explained we had tried nursing home work and it was not a good fit for either of us. “Won’t you just come and walk through and then decide? Our home is different.”

We did that and did find it different – to the point that, as we finished our tour, I asked if I could get a room there.

Until early this year, the home remained pretty much the same. Residents were happy and content, as were employees from maintenance and housekeeping staff to administrative personnel, nursing staff, and those in charge of auxiliary services including pet visits.

When the home was sold early this year, changes were soon evident. The first major change I really noticed was when the Sisters were no longer there. Their’s had been such a quieting, calming presence. And when a resident’s death was imminent it was they who spent the night in the room, singing and praying.

Residents were assigned a room and it was theirs! They could bring enough personal things to make it “home” away from home. Visitors and volunteers alike knew where to find a particular resident.

The priest, Father Joe, a resident of the home himself, turned out to be a gentleman I had been acquainted with when Kelly and I did a demonstration a couple of times at Cardinal Stritch High School.

You couldn’t miss Father Joe’s room. It was the first room on the left in the first wing of the home. So imagine my surprise when on this Monday his name was no longer on the door plate! He couldn’t have died! He was not that sick. Where was he?

Not only that, but a sheet of paper hung on the outside of the door with MY name on it: “Welcome, Helen.”

Quickly, I retreated to see the activities director with questions: “Where is Father Joe? And what is MY name doing on his door?”

It turns out Father Joe had moved to a different room and there is actually a Helen in residence in that room.

The new owners of the home are renovating the end-of-hallway rooms to make them into double rooms, and his room, fitting that category, was renovated. Thus, he was moved.

He always seemed so at home in his first room – like this was where he would live out his days, and he seems very young to me. I didn’t get to visit with him Monday, as it was chapel time and he was busy. He is the resident presiding priest of the home. Yet, knowing him as I do, I’m sure he would not have voiced dissatisfaction with the change.

It needed to happen to accommodate the new layout of the home, and Father Joe would have just accepted that change.

The change of residence I anticipate is the one when Jesus will call my name and invite me to take up residence with Him in Glory. I won’t experience any dissatisfaction at that move. Though millions will already be there, there’s room for me and you, too! I plan to look around heaven for you. Will I find you there?

If my name is on the door where I thought you would be, I’ll just look farther down the hall, like I now have to in Father Joe’s case. Don’t disappoint me. Be there!

Surprising changes abound for Kelly and me