03 April 2020

Adopt a Grandparent! (Yeah, it's totally a thing)

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As is the case with all of you, I’m certain, I’ve been sitting here trying to wrap my head around this situation with the virus coming to the United States. Trying to wrap my head around the fact that a couple weeks ago, I was able to see my parish family and we could hug each other and spend time together in person… I admit, I shed a lot of tears since the lock-down became a very real reality.

So … A couple weeks ago, when COVID-19 made its presence known here in the United States, it became serious enough for the Bishops to sit up and say, ‘Alright, y’all, no public Mass until this is taken care of, we’ve got to keep our parishioners safe.’ Years ago, I worked in a rest home for the elderly. It wasn’t a job that I enjoyed – let’s face it: nursing homes aren’t the most ideal environments to work in, especially for someone as young as I was (I was 19). It feels like a lifetime ago when I was there, but I remember most of my co-workers by name, and I remember most of my favourite residents’ names, as well.

See the source imageThe way we treat the elderly, as a society, as a whole, is awful. Let’s be honest. Sure, they’re older and sure, they tend to regress a lot back to childhood. I’ve worked with people who have dementia, but I didn’t see the person’s poor health, but I saw the person. That person had family who once upon a time loved them. A lot of the residents didn’t have anyone to come to visit them. This is unacceptable.

And let's be honest, even our brother, St Paul, is pretty clear all over the New Testament (and so is the Apostle whose name escapes me, the one who wrote Acts, he mentions about how we're to be responsible for our elders...).  I mean, this is all over the place in the Bible, Old AND New Testaments, but for the sake of space (and time, it's late here), I'll give you a few examples and let you explore others on your own...

Check it out:  1 Timothy 5.3-4, 8:  '...Honour widows who are real widows.  If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.  But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.'

James 1.27 is also very direct on this:  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unsustained from the world.'

The Catechism also has a few things to say about how the elderly should be treated:  

Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery.  Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly...The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.  There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help.  It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs:  'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unsustained from the world.'  -CCC 2168, 2208

With COVID-19 having our entire world in complete upheaval, and we’re all in forced lock-down status, can you imagine what that must be like for the elderly who do have people to come to visit? It’s got to be an absolutely devastating thing. The one thing they had to break up their day’s monotony, seeing the grandkids, and great-grandkids, and now, they don’t have that much. The only familiarity they have in terms of human contact is the staff of various medical professionals around to dole out medications, mail, water pitchers (let’s face it, medications can cause wicked cottonmouth), change bedding, and whatever other necessities the residents may need.

Someone in the UK came up with an idea – God bless you fiercely, sweet soul, for this! - a program for people to be able to volunteer to make themselves readily available to the elderly trapped in nursing homes who have no one to talk to, to help them pass the time.

It's called ADOPT A GRANDPARENT.  It literally does not cost anything. At all. To do this. It costs maybe a few minutes of your time to fill out the form and click on ‘done’ or whatever, to send the form in. You don’t have to be in the UK to do it, either, because we live in an age where technology is a thing and that means we can video chat with people miles and miles and even continents apart!

The website does tell you that the initial ‘intake’ as it were, you do have to do a video chat – or if you don’t have that available to you, they have workarounds ;) But the residents can e-mail with you, there are ways you can send postcards or letters, stuff like that. It’s literally one of the coolest things I think I’ve ever seen.

On the form, you'll be asked some questions about how you heard about the website - feel free to tell them I sent you over.  I found out through someone posting about it yesterday and I considered it all day and then last night I decided why not?  I'm not doing anything so pressing that I can't make myself readily available to someone who probably has no one.  They'll ask you for your interests, up to three, and they'll do their best to get you matched with someone.  Once the form's filled out and sent in, you sit back and wait for an e-mail to get things underway to meet your new Grandparent.

And, at the end of the day, you’ll have a new friend, and you’d be a new friend to someone who had no one before.

I mean… what’s wrong with being a genuinely kind person to another person who needs a little love? Trust me, it won’t hurt to reach out and be a friend. You never know who you might be helping. And at the same time, you’ll be helping yourself, too.

Here’s the link again to the website so you can get signed up. I encourage you to pass this around, too, so others can sign up, too. Let’s get out there and help someone who can’t help themselves anymore.

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