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I love my mom SO much it hurts.  Her name is Nora, and she is in a nursing home by herself since my father, the love of her life, Harold, passed away last April. Before he died, they lived in there together. The staff of the nursing home thought they were so cute because they had been married 61 years and looked out for each other in every way. When he passed away, no one thought my mother would hang on much longer. Especially since the doctors told us she had only about three months to live over a year ago.

Last night I went to visit her. I try to go twice a week, but I confess, sometimes I only make it once a week.  I justify it because I’m busy with a full-time job as a teacher and a part-time job as a writer. I leave work late, work long into the evening, and work on weekends. She has visitors everyday because I have a big family who all visit regularly. But that’s no excuse. She deserves better. She never complains when she hasn’t seen me in a week. Instead she tells me how proud she is of me and how she loves me so much.

As I said, last night I went to see her. Suddenly she teared up and told me she was worried about the staff of the home, the nurses, the CNAs, the janitors. My mom has always been a very religious person, a Christian. My brothers and sisters and I were raised in the Baptist church, and my mom took it seriously. I, on the other hand, have always struggled with faith and had trouble believing the bible. I always hid this from my mom because I wouldn’t hurt her or worry her for the world. And she does worry–because she cares so much. She was crying over her worry that all the CNAs, nurses, and other staff might not be saved. She told me she asks everyone if they know Jesus and if they have given their lives to him. Sometimes they say yes, and other times they talk to her in depth about what they do believe. She prays for them, she cries for them. She tells them that Jesus died for them and that he loves them. This is typical of my mom because she always thinks of everyone else’s needs before her own. My mom told me that she believes that the only reason God has not taken her home to be with her beloved Harold is because she is supposed to tell the people in the home about Jesus. This is the first time my mom mentioned to me wanting to go to be with my dad. She is always cheerful and sweet, kind to the staff and to everyone. She doesn’t complain, so much so that the staff says they don’t even know when she is having a medical issue until she is really in pain because she doesn’t say anything.

She isn’t concerned for them out of any sense of superiority or condemnation. She cares. She loves them. She hurts for them. She tries to make their lives easier. She once told me that they have a terrible job, cleaning up accidents, bathing and dressing the residents, lifting them out of bed, helping them on and off the toilet. She said she wants to make their lives easier and happier by always saying thank you and being nice, polite, and not complaining. Personally, I think they are lucky to take care of her.

No matter what your personal beliefs are about Christianity and people who “witness,” sharing their views with others who may not want to hear them, you have to give her credit for her love. My mom loves them, regardless of their beliefs, with a true and sincere love. She is in this nursing home, crying for people, for some who are not always as nice and gentle as they could be, who are not always kind or helpful. This is her amazing gift, her soft heart, her unselfish love for others. She is an amazing example of love to me. She is true Christianity. She is being Jesus to the world. When I look at her, I am in awe of her. Then I ask myself how someone like me came from someone like her.–Christina Knowles

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