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For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

The strange sounds coming from the hospital room caught my attention. The rhythm of the noises sounded like talking, but not in a language I was familiar with.

It was my volunteer day, and I was on my way down the hall to see if patients needed anything.

When I walked into the room, I saw an elderly woman in the bed, a blanket pulled up partway over her thin nightgown. Her arms were flailing and she was “talking”. In chairs at the foot of the bed sat her equally elderly husband, and their thirty-something granddaughter. 

The granddaughter returned my smile and “Hello”.  The grandfather gave a quick “Hello”, and then returned his worried gaze back to his wife, his hands nervously clutching each other.  Love and concern for his wife showed in his eyes. I saw God in the grandfather as he looked at his wife. 

“Grandma has Alzheimer’s”, the granddaughter said with a gentle smile while looking at her grandmother. “She her own language. She knows what she’s saying but the rest of us haven’t figured it out yet!”

The grandmother let out a few more sentences, arms moving for emphasis. 

“Grandma was just brought here from the nursing home for treatment, and the move’s made her agitated.” The granddaughter looked at her grandfather. “And Grandpa’s very concerned. He lives at home with us.” 

We spoke for a little while, and the grandmother calmed down. Declining my offer to get fresh ice water for her grandmother, the granddaughter asked me if instead I’d sit with her grandmother while she took her frail grandfather to the Men’s room. I agreed. 

She stood up, then gently leaned over and helped her grandfather to stand. He continued to use her arm for support as they carefully made their way out the door together, then moved slowly down the hallway. The devotion of the granddaughter to her grandparents was wonderful – I saw God in her that day. 

The activity triggered more talking from the grandmother, this time without the arm movements. I pulled up one of the chairs closer to the grandmother’s bedside, where I could sit so I could hear her and she could see me. 

“It’s okay, they’ll be right back”, I tried to reassure her. She didn’t seem to understand. She said a few words, and then looked expectantly at me. Not understanding what she had just said, and noting the hour, I started talking about the dinner that was to be soon delivered, and babbled about what could be on the menu. The grandmother didn’t seem to understand me, either. 

“Here, let me pull these covers up,” I said, reaching for the blanket which had slipped even lower. The room was chilly, and I thought she might be, too. 

As I leaned over, my cross necklace worked its way free from the collar of my shirt, and the cross hung freely in front of the face of the grandmother. The movement was noticed immediately: she stopped talking, and her eyes opened very wide. 

“Oh my God!” said the grandmother, loud and clear. She then proceeded to speak in her language, yet by the rhythm of the words I understood her to be saying the Lord’s Prayer. Incredulous and caught off guard, I didn’t know what to do at first. I came to my senses to join her at the end with an “Amen.” 

She smiled. And that was when my eyes were opened and I saw Christ in her.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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