The normal Wednesday Mass at Rose Lane nursing home was somewhat reminiscent of the Chicago West Side riots of the 1960s. The spacious chapel where services are conducted for different denominational groups and other events had been changed. Instead of the usual homey atmosphere of the chairs and wheelchairs spread close to the altar, the configuration was now that of a long middle aisle with the participants on either side going the entire length of the room. With binoculars you could just make out the back row. The residents were not in a spiritual mood.
“Father, none of us like this!” was the first greeting to reach the ears. Other residents were also making their displeasure felt. They chose for the opening song “We Shall Overcome.” As with all bad situations, it got worse. During the Prayers of the Faithful, someone asked God for a pox on the administration. After Holy Communion, someone in the back was attempting to rub two sticks together to start a fire and burn a pamphlet that had “Patient’s Rights” stamped on it.
Now we all know how much we like change, especially the older we get, but change in a nursing facility? That’s playing with fire. One staff member was apologizing profusely and claiming he had nothing to do with the shuffle. He had a black eye from when a 93 year old gentleman hit him in the eye with a pudding pop in protest. The staffer also walked with a slight limp, a gift from Grandma Gdowski who whopped him with her walker. There was talk of a “wheel out” during lunch and demands that occupational therapy help them tie a hangman’s noose.
Rumor has it that things at dinner were no better. Though it’s hard to throw mashed potatoes, apple sauce and tapioca but they made a grand show of it. Eventually calmer heads and hernias prevailed and the aggrieved partisans shuffled and wheeled to their rooms with the promise from staff of putting the chapel back the way it was and warmer bedpans.
We all think we can handle change until change happens. In reality we can handle the changes we make, but not so much the changes caused by others. The one change we will all share is at the time of death. For non-believers it is just an end, for Christians it’s the start of eternity. How do you prepare for the change to eternal life? The sacraments, prayer, charity; to put it simply, the Way of Jesus. Have a pudding pop and think about it.