I can remember my parents taking me to see my great-grandmother in a nursing home once a week when I was a child. My father had been raised by her, and to show her honor, we would set aside this time for visiting with her.
Of course, being young and a bit creeped out by the sterilization and constant beeping of the place, I was a bit restless to say the least. I would sometimes complain about "the smell of old people," as I just couldn’t figure out this place that was so unlike my own home. Every time we would visit, my great-grandmother would sit up from her bed and have my dad get her pocketbook from the cabinet. Once she had it her 90-some-year-old hands, she would delicately open the clasps to her coin purse and secure a nickel for me. “Joey, here, go get yourself a candy bar from down the hall … but don’t tell your mom and dad,” she would whisper.
Job 32:7 says, “Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.” Leviticus 19:32 explains, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary (gray or aged) head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.”
In this time in which we’ve been called to shelter in place, and many of us, even clergy, are not able to visit our elderly family members, I have been thinking a lot about our visits with my great-grandmother. My dad had the utmost respect and love for her. It was apparent every visit when even his own precious son would not take the spotlight from her. That left an impression upon me.
I pray that we would heed to the Scriptures by honoring our fathers and mothers; the Lord commands it. Those who have come before us are a great source of wisdom. Beloved, Proverbs 17:6 tells us that “Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”
While so many are frustrated that they can’t go to restaurants, movies or to hang out with friends, we can conveniently blame the pandemic for our lonely days. However, we young people are greatly missed by those who, even before COVID-19, have been unable to just drop by our lives for one reason or another. It is heartbreaking to see our nursing homes being ravaged by this virus, and even more sad to remember a time when we could visit regularly … but chose not to.
Looking back on this memory, I can’t help but recall that a nickel (even in the ’80s) was never going to be enough for a candy bar. Wise to my grandmother’s ploy, my mom always had spare change available to add to it before I went down the hallway. But, in her wisdom, and with my adoring appreciation week in and week out, my great-grandmother knew exactly what she was doing. I was guaranteed exactly enough for a candy bar … as long as she gave me the first nickel.
Joseph Sidders is the pastor at Grace Missionary Baptist Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook @gmbctoledo.