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Presence: The Forgotten Can Be So Close By

Courtman.Mary-0696-07.10.2015By Mary Courtman, SNJM

Pope Francis, in his message of mercy, says “Let us make our whole existence a sign of love especially for the weakest and the poorest so they will encounter Jesus in us.”

The large and ever-growing population of the marginalized and poor can never financially qualify for assisted living. Too often they are alone, abandoned, forgotten. And yet they can be so close by.

For me, I was so blessed by Marion, my delightful neighbor. After a fall, surgeries and eventually a leg amputation, she was in a nursing home. The only person who knew and cared about her was her older sister in their hometown of Louisville, KY. I felt drawn to commit myself to a weekly visit – sometimes decorating, bringing flowers from the farmers’ market or fall leaves, or connecting the two sisters by telephone.

Gradually it dawned on me as I walked the long halls to her room… “How many here have no one to visit them, care or even know their name?” How true, perhaps, in all these “homes” – month after month, year after year.

Marion died last year. As I reflect, keeping my promised commitment has made me a better person (“the giver has been given!”) and hopefully, Jesus and His love have been given in those nine years.

To find a person (or several) in a “home” with absolutely no one to visit, ask the nursing home social services person.

Give the gift of Presence.