Spreading Freedom with Elderly
Spreading Freedom Where Freedom Is not Always Present
On Tuesday, September 14, Lisa, Jayna, and Bruce of WorldLegacy NC 123 Leadership visited the Brooks-Howell Home, a resident elder care facility. WorldLegacy in Morrisville, NC is a coaching company with personal development and leadership workshops. Affiliated with the Methodist Church, Brooks-Howell is located on Merrimon Avenue in Asheville. Our visit began at 9:00am and ended at approximately 9:50am. We visited residents, all women, in a day room as some finished their breakfast and others watched television. Several of these women had been Methodist missionaries. I visited individually with three women, Ilo, Francis, and Evelyn. Ilo and Francis had been missionaries, Ilo in East Asia and South America and Francis in Africa. Evelyn had been the postmaster in Swannanoa, a small community in eastern Buncombe County. Evelyn’s husband was a coach at the local high school and had been a Methodist minister at one time. Evelyn turned 100 last July 11.
I jokingly asked if it would be all right for a Roman Catholic to sit with them for a while. All three laughed and said that everyone was welcome at both Brooks-Howell and the Methodist Church. I said that the same applied for my church as well, though it was not always obvious. Francis, especially, was interested in talking about church and faith and, I think, Ilo would have been. Ilo had problems with her speech and it was difficult to understand her. Tracy, the Executive Director, said that Ilo could not talk, but she could be understood with a little patience and intention.
All of them said they appreciated the Brooks-Howell Home, particularly the beautiful flower gardens, and that they were well cared for. Tracy obviously cared about them and was very protective of them, so protective that she did not allow us to wear costumes, fearing that it might upset some of the women. While Ilo, Francis, and Evelyn were indeed frail, all lit up with smiles with a gentle touch on the arm or a handshake.
Ilo, Francis, and Evelyn have led long lives full of giving and, even though they are not very mobile and probably don’t get out very much, I experienced that they still wanted to give. It also struck me that giving creates freedom. It’s true that freedom is not always present in nursing homes, but freedom can come from the past. All three of these women beamed when they shared their lives and realized that their lives were inspirational for all of us and that they had made big differences in the world. And they still make differences for us by giving us the privilege of sharing in their life journeys.