Punching in the numbers, I slip through the front door of the nursing home, giving a quick smile to the young man in a wheel chair stationed by the door. He’s always there when I come in, moved there, perhaps, where he can see the comings and goings of the visitors. He doesn’t smile, but just stares straight ahead. Walking past him, I ease down the hall past the woman wheeling herself one foot at a time in her wheelchair. Intent on her journey, she ignores me. I knock quietly as I open the first door on the right. Peeking in, I see that Ms. Ruby is sleeping. Her roommate smiles and says, “Now, you go right ahead and wake her, honey, she won’t want to miss your visit.” Hesitantly, I call her name, “Mrs. Ruby…..Mrs. Ruby, it’s me, Cindy.”
Mrs. Ruby stirred and turned toward me, groggy and incoherent for a moment until recognition set in, and then she gave me a huge smile. Every time I see her, she blesses me with that beautiful smile; smiling with her entire face. . . her nose wrinkling, and her bright eyes sparkling with fun, intelligence, and pure love. Reaching down to hug her, she literally trembled with joy and tried to sit up, her thin shoulders shaking. As I eased her back down on her bed, she began talking to me. I could make out maybe one or two of her words, because after several mini-strokes, Mrs. Ruby’s speech is very difficult to understand. But, that doesn’t stop her! I tell her about my children and my grandchildren, and she tells me about her daughter and her beloved grandson, Stan. Listening intently, I get the gist of what she is trying to tell me. Love is our language. We understand each other perfectly.
Mrs. Ruby is teaching me about grace and courage…….and dignity. She has fallen so many times, breaking bones and going through surgery without one complaint. She faces one more surgery next week because of a recent fall. But, she serenely embraces each day knowing that her Lord and Savior is always taking care of her. Every time I am with her, I feel the presence of the Lord; yes, even God-bumps in her tiny nursing home room.
Over the years, Mrs. Ruby has prayed for so many people, sending out church bulletins to those who were absent, and just being a quiet presence in the church. She tells me about people that she is still praying for from her nursing home bed. God will continue to use Mrs. Ruby until the day He takes her home to be with Him.
We pray together before I leave, her beautiful eyes glistening with tears of love for her Lord….and for me. Reluctantly, she lets go of my hand. It’s always so difficult to leave her. I tell her roommate goodbye and ask her to take care of Mrs. Ruby. Her roommate smiles fondly at her. “Honey, I can’t hear and she can’t talk, but Lord, we get along just great!”
I am always so humbled when I punch those numbers back in and walk out the front door of that nursing home. Taking in the beautiful sunset as I drive home, I pray that someday I might have the courage and dignity that Mrs. Ruby is teaching me. In Proverbs 31:25, it says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” That’s Mrs. Ruby.