I'm going to say something that's going to seem strange. Odd. Perhaps even inappropriate. But please, hear me out. Give me a minute. Here goes.

I'm glad my parents spent several years in a Nursing Home. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. If that sounds selfish, it is.

Let me explain.

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My Mom was in a Nursing Home for over seven years, and my Dad just about the same amount of time. (By the way, I was fortunate enough to have a Mom and Dad, not a Mother and a Father).

That Nursing Home was a strange, unfamiliar place when I first started going there to see them every week. I felt out of place I suppose, in this place filled with people, many of which I didn't know. I would walk in through the doors and sets of old tired eyes would follow me through the lobby, down the hall, and into the small room that was now home to my mom and dad. Each weekend when I would drive into the parking lot it would feel...awkward.

Until it didn't.

I didn't think I had anything in common with these people, these dinosaurs from a different time and place, and world. I would silently glide by them, avoiding their outstretched hands mumbling a barely audible 'Hello' and shuffle past. I tried to be invisible in this peculiar world filled with wrinkles and trembling hands.

They would reach out and I would turn away. And then I met Willie. And Doris. And Edna. And Cornelia. There was Henry, Chris, and so many others. Others whose names I didn't know, and it didn't matter. No names but warm inviting faces and fingers. They didn't want much, not much at all. Just a simple touch on the shoulder, a brief wave of the hand, a smile.

Acknowledgment. A minute of time. Couldn't I just give them a minute of time?

Keep your money, those aged eyes silently said, keep your busy hurried life. Keep your worries about bills to pay, the price of gas, and the politics that are so important. Keep all of that, and just give me...

...a minute.

And it taught me something, something that still lives in me all these years later, years that have me fast achieving that age of elderly skin and bones.

Isn't that really what we all want? A little time, a little acknowledgment that we're here, we're valuable, we mean something.

I'm glad my Mom and Dad were in a Nursing Home. Oh, not glad for them, of course. But because of that circumstance, I took the time to meet some of the most fascinating people I've ever met in my life, walking and talking history books.

And the other thing it taught me...we are all someone, someone important. Acknowledge that someone in your life. And when you can, when you have the opportunity, acknowledge someone that isn't in your life.

That person, that important person, maybe alone. And all they want is a minute.

So go ahead, make the leap, and visit a Long Term Care Facility. You'll learn a whole lot. And you'll be glad you did.



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