I have been blessed with the chance to spend nine weeks at Queen of Peace Residence, as an intern in the Spring into Service program offered by the Little Sisters.
It has been an incredible experience during which I’ve gained many new friends, grandparent figures, and what feels like an army of prayer warriors.
Loneliness, boredom, and feelings of isolation are all things that elderly people have to struggle with, but at Queen of Peace these burdens are lifted as much as possible. As an intern, I had many opportunities to spend time with different Residents just talking with them, listening, and learning from them. My time there taught me a lot about growing old and trusting in God, about how much has changed over the decades and how much hasn’t.
I want to share some of my thoughts from my time at Queen of Peace.
I’m learning about their long passed spouses and I tell them of my sister’s impending wedding. My girlfriends are studying Chemical Engineering and International Affairs and these women took typewriting, shorthand, and other secretarial classes in high school. They tell me about their grandkids and I might mention my grandparents. Trying to imagine myself 60 years from now, I ask them what they were like at my age. There’s always this look of reminiscence in their eye.
After finishing “1984” by George Orwell last month, I talked with some of them about the book. To me that story is about a time that has already passed, written in an even older time. For those of them that read it, it was a book that “just came out” and was one man’s worrisome idea of their future.
These are the differences I thought about daily. As an 18 year old, I was set apart among seniors, but our differences helped me get the most out of my experience.
I get glimpses of how they have seen the culture of America change over the years, which I find intriguing. I get to think about new things, like what will I say when my grandkids ask about this time in history. I get to be a source of hope for them about the future of this world, which holds me to a higher standard than otherwise. I get to struggle with the idea of my own mortality, which is much more than an idea, of course. I get a new piece of life advice practically daily. And they’ve earned that right, to give unsolicited advice, just because of all the years they’ve put in. I’m constantly inspired by them to live a life without regrets of missed chances. They are learning acceptance of what life throws them, especially physically, if they haven’t already learned. Their age forces them to be humble and dependent on others. If I’m lucky, I’m learning these lessons alongside them.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. It is difficult to put into words the connection I was able to make with the Residents I worked with. I put on their slippers, walked their wheelchairs outside with them, asked about the photographs in their rooms, and read the books I was reading aloud to them. In all these little ways, I became important to them and they each became important to me.
By: Mary Grace Coltharp