This evening I stopped by the post office to mail two packages then headed to the church so I could drop off some music. I still had a couple errands and some grocery shopping to do, but when I saw the Elm Creek Nursing Home sign, I knew I had to stop there first.
For years my mother has made flannel lap robes for nursing home residents. I'd buy the flannel and either take it to Mom or ship it to her - back when postal rates were much more reasonable. She'd make lap robes and give them to me when I'd go up there for a visit. She knew I'd make sure they were given to people who needed them. On my last trip to Mom's house, she gave me a huge shopping bag and two smaller bags filled with lap robes and told me that was the last of them.
Mom will be 87 on Christmas Day and claims she has made her last "blankies", as she calls them. I understand why she isn't going to make them anymore. It's getting harder for her to see and frankly, it's difficult for her to remember how to work the sewing machine these days. It turned out, the last lap robes in the shopping bag were not finished, though Mom obviously thought they were. Some weeks ago, I took them to a small nursing home a few miles from here and, for whatever reason, before I went inside, I pulled some of them out of the shopping bag and found many needed to be finished. Mom would have been embarrassed had she realized she'd given me unfinished blankies. I checked all the others and distributed the finished ones. I took the remaining lap robes home to do the needed work and add yarn tufting, as Mom had always done.
Once I had worked on them, I should have taken them back to the nursing home right away, but things were hectic around here and I forgot they were in the back of my car - until tonight. So I took the big bag of lap robes into the lobby at Elm Creek and was greeted by a pleasant receptionist who seemed thrilled to have them. Before I finished explaining who had made them, I heard a voice call out, "Are you Santa Claus?", and I turned to find a little white-haired lady pulling her wheelchair into the lobby. I said, "I might be Santa. Do you want to see what's in my bag?"
The lady introduced herself as "Kathryn" and volunteered that she was 92. She kept saying, "I don't know how I got to be this old". I asked if she'd like to choose a gift from my bag and she pulled out a pretty lap robe and immediately held it close to her. I hugged her and told her Merry Christmas and she reached for my hand. We stood there for what seemed like a long time as she shared stories of her beloved spouse and Christmases past. All of a sudden, none of the things I thought I had to do seemed very important or urgent.
As I left Kathryn and the nursing home, I had tears in my eyes and vowed to treasure every day I have left in my life. Kathryn, wrapped in her soft new lap robe, waved as I went out the door and I knew there had been a reason I needed to stop at Elm Creek tonight.