Heroes

BY RABBI ELIZABETH HERSH

I have heroes. One is a woman almost a hundred years old. She loves living in the skilled living facility. She asks me if she is wrong as people tell her to go and live with her children. Her son and daughter, by the way, are in their late 60’s and early 70’s.

“Why would I?” she asks me. “I have my independence. I can join my friends for breakfast or eat in my room. Then I spend the rest of the morning reading the newspaper. I nap, visit with friends, come and go as I please. My children are retired and travel. When they visit their children, they would need to hire someone to look after me. I don’t want to become a burden. I want them to have good memories of their mama. Am I wrong?”

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Wow. I admire her spirit and fierce sense of who she is. I hope I can have her strength and fortitude.

Today I visited with a woman who told me her children insisted she move into an assisted living home. She said she absolutely hated it and did nothing but cry. Now she welcomes new residents and helps them adjust to their new home. She tells me she loves living there and cannot imagine her life anywhere else.

My heroes are husbands and wives who gently care for one another, helping each other walk and holding hands while watching television. I smile with admiration when they look at each other with love, compassion and true understanding. I am witness to a spectrum of emotions on a daily basis. My heroes teach me how to live with grace and humility.