Today, both worlds came together in my car. The world of middle class and poverty class. You ask, “Your car?” Yes, let me explain…
During the summer, we had our interns shave faces and cut hair for the men and women residents at the Infirmary. It was great, but it was time for more grooming at the Infirmary with our October team of adult volunteers. With shears and razors in hand, away we went. Residents loved it, we loved it and the one-on-one time seemed to be better medicine than anything else.
Then the word came from my family in the States that my biological father had been put in a memory care facility close to where we have our townhouse in Atlanta. Since I haven’t had a close relationship with my father for decades, thoughts ran through my head on the ride up. What am I getting myself into? Is this going to be long term? Will he still be the same person I remembered as a young adult? Even though I had seen him briefly between the years, if anyone has ever read the book the Mango Tree Gospel, you will understand what I’m talking about.
As Allen and I pulled up to the nursing home and walked in to sign the book, too many things seemed very familiar. As we were directed to my father’s room, we were very much aware of the odor, the moans, the wheelchairs everywhere, and the blank empty look on so many of these once active adults, all looking into space.
There was my father, who I remembered as a strong, tall, outspoken man, sitting in a wheelchair. He was not sure at first who I was. He smelled and had not bathed in a few days. I quickly started washing down his legs that were dirty and talking to him the way I would any of my infirmary friends. He smiled and began to come alive.
We decided to get him a shave and a haircut. With it being Sunday, all the barbershops were closed. The only place open was good ol’ Supercuts. Away we went. He felt pretty good about the whole event. And so did we.
As we dropped him off at the center and got back into the car, I realized that death is certain and, for the most part, we have no way to determine how we go. It just doesn’t matter if it’s poverty in Jamaica or middle class in America, the outcome is all the same. It’s that last breath that we take going into eternity that will matter.
Make a difference now whether it’s at the infirmary in Port Maria or the nursing home where you live. Get out there and make that time between living and falling away a happy moment for those needing your smile and touch. Even though all of time had lapsed between then and now, just like the infirmary, Daddy was glad someone came to see him. Thank you all for caring for our “least of these” in Jamaica. It truly makes us all smile.