Her gait, today, sluggish. Every step, entailing, by the instant, more intentionality. “Left, right, left, right…” she murmured to herself. Nevertheless, at the most, at her best, even at her age, her stride was far sprightlier. And, at the least, never far from her awareness, her thankfulness, she could walk.
She did walk. Every day. Early. At the appearance of dawn’s light. To move about without being an obstruction and not to be obstructed. Especially by overzealous caregivers whose request to employ her walker, not something she desired, oft sounded to her more like a demand, “It is required!” Their insistence about that and so many other things provoked her, on occasion, to ponder the difference between “caregiver” and “caretaker.”
In hand her trusty cane (“My ‘can’ with an ‘e’ for ‘effort’!” she was wont to say), she stepped into the hallway.
Blessedly empty, save for one of the security guards making his morning rounds. Greeting him with a cheery, “Good day!” he answered with a smile and a respectful doff of his cap.
She continued on her way, as she did every day, wandering the corridors of her assisted living residence until her Fitbit vibrated, signaling her attainment of her daily step-goal.
(She always stressed, saying aloud, even when talking to herself, that wonderful word, “assisted.” For there was much she could do for herself. So many others, whose rooms she passed, could do less-to-little for themselves.)
Many were her blessings. Knowing that, honoring that, she was quick to give God thanks in her daily prayers. Still, no sooner had she uttered “Amen,” she felt the rise of her lament.
Following her walks, for hours, she sat at her window; waiting, watching for someone, a loved one to come to see her. To speak with her. To be with her.
Two years before, her husband, on the day before their 58th anniversary, died. Their families being the closest of friends, they had known and loved each other virtually all of their lives. He, a physician, revered by all in the town of their birth, at death, had left her well off for the remainder of her life. There was not one thing of the things of this world about which she need worry and not one thing of the things that she might desire, though modest her longings (save for her generosity for all causes, great or small), for which she was without the means to attain.
But their children, their three sons, presently, largely absent, surfaced mostly in the images of her memory.
When their sons did appear, never together, each, at a time (not, in her experience, really visiting, but, as she considered it, only passing through) would sit for a second, then pace about her room complaining about the other two. In their individually varied, though sadly similar invectives, each, in his tour de force, venting about the greed of the other two, grasping for more than their share of their father’s liberal bequests, viewed or rather ignored her as his silent audience of one.
And each, at the breathless dénouement of his diatribe, would depart as he had come, hastily, and with nary a fare-thee-well.
At the exodus of each, for some time and then some time longer, she, her hands folded into a tight, knuckle-bruising knot of soul-aggrieved aggravation, thinking of the Apostle’s wise word, would whisper to herself, “The love of money is the root of all evil, for the lust of which some greatly harm themselves.” Then adding, “Not only themselves, but others…all others.”
Endnote: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains (1 Timothy 6.10)
3 thoughts on “Moneyed Evil – A Modern Parable”
Good morning from Paris!!! This truly spoke to me!! Greed, it’s the killer of so many hopes & dreams…. and families!!
This spoke to me because of the many, many lonely people I see in assisted living facilities… many long forgotten by those who supposedly love them. One of the reasons I started doing LEGO art at Collington was because so many of the folks in the dementia wing had no visitors. And as you know, my mom taught me to be kind.
Being a Fitbit junkie I also loved that part of the story, being committed to getting those steps in no matter what else is going on!! For me, it keeps me committed to my health and I also pay close attention to how much I sleep!! It’s truly important to me to get enough rest these days!!
Thank you for these words which allow us to focus on what’s important in this life!
Loretta, you’re in Paris? How fabulous! Enjoy! (Tho’ I don’t suppose I need tell you that!)
This version of my blog-subject-heading A Modern Parable arose from my reflections on the appointed epistle text for this coming Sunday, 1 Timothy 6.6-19 (paired with Jesus’ Parable of Lazarus and the rich man; Luke 16.19-31), and an experience I had this past week. I observed an elderly lady, accompanied by her assisted living facility caregiver, on (what she later described to me) her weekly outing to the hairdresser. Right before me, on the walkway, she tripped and fell. Immediately, I sought to assist her, and, with her caregiver, after checking to discern whether she had any broken/fractured bones (for she had caught herself with her hands and, blessedly, her face didn’t meet the concrete; tho’, I believe, that she would develop some bruising), we helped her to stand. She turned to me and apologized, saying, “I’m sorry. I believe that I leaned more on you!” I replied, “That’s fine. That’s why I was here for you when you fell.” She smiled. “Thank you.” I helped her into the salon, which was a door or two away. Her caregiver thanked me, too. She told me that Mrs. Smith loves to walk and it’s hard, sometimes, for her to be still, but, she continued, “Mrs. Smith, except for me and the other caregivers, doesn’t get that kind of kindly treatment from her three boys. You seem to be about their age.” (At first, I took personal pride that the caregiver seemed to think that I was younger than I was. Then I realized that Mrs. Smith was probably in her late-80s, thus, I probably was/am around the age the of her eldest son!)
As I walked away, a number of thoughts immediately came to mind. The encounter felt to me like I had had a visit with Mrs. Smith (which, I suppose, I had had!) and that, as I continued to reflect, it felt like I was composing a verbatim of the experience (taking me back, way back to my seminary days of Clinical Pastoral Education at Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, when chaplains offered weekly reports of significant interactions for purposes of learning and growth). I also felt – and still feel – profoundly sad for Mrs. Smith (and, I also confess, wondering about what will happen to when/if I become more aged).
Thank you for your response/sharing about your LEGO-ministry and why you do it. And, know this, as I composed and wrote this piece, I thought of you and your labors of love with, foremost, your mother Doris, Mrs. Adams, and, now, countless older folk and their caregivers. Carry on!
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Thanks for sharing this story Paul!! How sad for this woman!! This story is so common though, folks have family…. but many times they don’t help… but when they die, their loved ones show up and ask “what did they leave me”. Pure greed!! Thanks for being there for this woman!!
Love you back!! And yes as you can see from FB having a ball with Louise in Paris!!