She was just a teeny tiny lady, maybe about 4’11 and about 90 pounds. And she looked so small sitting in a big chair. Her feet did not touch the ground. It was during my visit to a veteran’s home that I met her. Just the other night when I went to drop some angel pins off to one of the other residents who has become a good friend.
She was crying. Just one little cry after another. I stopped and asked her name. I could tell she had a slight accent.
What country are you originally from?
I was from Hungary and I married an American soldier during the war. I have been here for a long time. My husband died but I can live here because I am the wife of someone who served in the Armed Forces. There are not many ladies here. Most of the residents are men.
How do you say Good Night in Hungarian?
I tried to say it and she smiled and then she laughed. She was amused at my poor pronunciaton.
How do you say How are you in Hungarian?
My mis-pronunciation of this sent her into more laughter.
It was good to see her smile.
While she sits there is she thinking of her old European country home and her family? Who does she turn to when she is close to tears? What does she do on the winter days when the days are short and the nights are long and cold?
The tears were probably expressing the inner doldrums of her soul. This lady is spending the last years of her life in a nursing home. I know that the staff provides great care. Two of my daughters work in nursing homes and I know that they give their all. They love their residents. But there is no place like home, with a loving family for company.
I wished that I had had some of my donated gifts with me. Over the years, people have given me lap blankets, small gifts, stuffed animals and all kinds of things that are a tangible sign that someone cares. But my hands and car were empty of anything that would say someone is thinking of you. I wished that I had a greeting card, a box of candy or a piece of apple pie with me.
I could just tell that this kind lady was the type of person who brought blessings to others throughout her life. She was probably the first to send a get well card to someone who was ill or take a pumpkin pie to someone who needed a lift. She no doubt gave hope to a lot of friends during her lifetime. After all, she was a girl growing up in Hungary during World War II.
We talked a few more minutes and I went on my way. I thought of a quote that I had read attributed to a famed psychologist Karl Menninger. The central purpose in each person’s life is to dilute the misery in the world.
There are lots of people in hospitals, nursing homes. orphanages, and other institutions that need their misery diluted. I wonder what little action we can each do to help people like the little Hungarian lady.
How can we all dilute the misery in the world?