At first I really enjoyed the work because I started out in the assisted living division delivering packages, magazines, and mail but after some time my supervisor moved me to the nursing home division so that I could be a wing 'companion'. At first I just made door-to-door visits replenishing water cups and ice chips but as I became a more 'permanent' face on the floor the residents began to trust me and even confide in me thus moving me into the 'companion' role. Most of the time I really enjoyed making my rounds and spent many an hour laughing, singing, listening, playing chicken foot, and just being a much needed friend to some very lonely people, but more often that not I left the nursing home emotionally and physically exhausted because of the negativity I channeled by being a listening ear. Don't get me wrong, I love the opportunity to learn from other's experiences but those opportunities were actually pretty rare because most of the listening involved complaints about the staff or accommodations, venting about family members, or just really detailed accounts regarding health problems or the aging process. There was, however, one woman in particular that made every day spent in the nursing home a complete joy. Eunice was an 84-year-old diabetic woman who had recently had both of her legs removed and was by far the most energetic, optimistic person I have ever encountered who, despite great personal set backs from her health and age, never let the obstacles influence her attitude. She was a joy in my life and a dear friend who was fond of saying, "Wag more, bark less." I'll never forget the day I came to visit on my day off and found her room empty. I sought out the floor nurse to inquire about my friend and the look on the nurse's face made my heart sank as I realized the news she was trying to break to me. I cried the whole way home and resolved never to return thinking I couldn't handle the heartache of developing friendships only to lose them unexpectedly. As I thought about Eunice's life and the credo that she lived by every day I realized by not returning I would miss the opportunity to develop the kind of relationship I had with Eunice.
I've been doing a lot of complaining for the past few weeks because of stress, health, finances, and every other thing that has stolen my joy. As I sat at the family Thanksgiving table this weekend I was struck by the blessing of having all of my family sitting at one table together, relatively healthy, and in good spirits. In that moment I was reminded of Eunice and the way that she found the good in every situation and I realized how much I've been 'barking' and how little I've been 'wagging'. Thank you, Eunice, for your words of wisdom and the much needed reminder to rejoice in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18