One of the effects of the pandemic on most of us has been a renewed sense of gratitude. People and things we had easily taken for granted before, we now see and appreciate in a new way. Each of us could make a list of the things and people in our lives that we see in a new light since the coronavirus changed the normal pattern of our lives.
Some have been rightly celebrated like doctors and nurses and first responders who are on the front lines of fighting the virus in hospitals. Other, while less celebrated, are equally appreciated. I think of the folks at the grocery stores where we shop, the tellers at the banks where we bank, the sanitation workers who pick up our garbage and our faithful teachers who are mastering the art of distance learning.
In these days, my admiration for the aides, the activity directors and the kitchen staffs in our nursing homes has grown in leaps and bounds. Our family members and fellow parishioners who are in nursing homes have seen their lives altered drastically by the coronavirus. In an effort to protect them, they are confined to their rooms and cannot enjoy normal contact with family and friends. The love and the compassion that they are being shown by those who care for them is nothing short of heroic.
Last week I was privileged to anoint a woman at a nursing home. Her family and the staff were concerned about her rapidly declining health. When I entered the room in mask and gown and all the protective gear required today, there was no way she could know that I was a priest. But when I made the sign of the cross over her and she realized who I was, she immediately sat up and joined in prayer. As I waved goodbye to her, she smiled and waved back at me and waved at her son who was at the window. I walked out into the hall and the aides who had gathered outside her room were clapping and crying. They told me this was the first time that the woman had smiled in days. The love and the concern of these good caregivers was so clear. May God bless all who serve our elderly family members and friends in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers and may they know our gratitude for the care they give our loved ones.
This might be a good time to make that 'gratitude list' of people we want to thank and celebrate as we see things and people in a new light.
See you at Mass - virtually! Fr. Todd