Last week, I hit a bit of a low. I realized that even though I mostly make God the center of my life on Sundays, I'm still a tad too attached to sporting events, namely American football. My favorite team was playing my least favorite team on national television last Sunday evening. My favorite team got soundly thrashed by my least favorite team. For awhile, I held back hope of a comeback. My son, who is notorious for waiting until 10pm Sunday evening to tell me he needs something for 8am Monday morning, made the mistake of trying to plead his case during a crucial down. I shushed him.
"Can't you see it's third down and my team hasn't scored a single point yet?"
Actually, he's oblivious to that sort of thing. Rebecca was not pleased with my reply.
"Stop watching football and start being a mother!"
Well. I guess I've been told, I thought.
I got up the next morning resolved that it would the last time I'd get so worked up about a sporting event.
Normally, on my drive to work, I pray my Chaplet to St. Michael, and when I'm finished, I turn on the radio and listen to the local sports talk show. I decided Monday morning that I wouldn't be listening anymore. I picked out a few of the chant CD's not already in my car. If my hand went anywhere near the FM dial, I asked God to slap it away for me. In the scheme of things, it won't matter who won the Super Bowl, who converted on third down or how many times my favorite quarterback threw an interception. When I snapped at my procrastinating son, I was no better than the nuts who leave the stadium after a loss and engage in games of road rage.
I announced to my family Monday at dinner that I wouldn't be following the Cowboys anymore. At least not until their next game!
My other resolution was to spend more time at the Adoration chapel. When I went on Friday evening, the Lord was all alone and had been for hours. I saw a note urging people to please sign up for a regular hour each week so that they chapel would always be covered. I signed up for an hour every Friday. A much more productive way to spend my time than watching sports.
When yesterday rolled around, I did my best to take it all in stride. Suddenly, I remembered that I had wanted to visit a member of our parish who was recently admitted to a nursing home. I turned off the television well before the game ended and took Rebecca with me. She had never been to a nursing home before and I had forgotten to prepare her a bit for what she was going to see.
Our friend is in great shape compared to the others he's now housed with and deep down I hated the thought of him having to spend the rest of his days in so depressing a place. The residents looked like they were well cared for, but they also looked lonely, bored and out of it. Every once in awhile we'd hear an outburst when a woman who couldn't speak would yell in frustration. I had been in places like this many times during nursing school, but I wondered what Rebecca thought.
We found our friend's room and walked past his roommate, who was clearly dying, to greet him. I looked at the man lying in bed, obviously nearing the end of his days, and said hello and that I was sorry for disturbing him. He nodded and waved back. Our friend told us to go down to the dining room and he'd meet us there.
It wasn't much of a dining room. There was a sofa in front of a television tuned to the ABC Family channel. No one was paying any mind to it, even though its volume was set deafeningly loud. Our friend joined us in his wheelchair and we chatted for awhile. We made small talk and told him how poorly the church was running without him. The aides were beginning to wheel some of the residents in for their Sunday meal, so we made it short and sweet. I told our friend I knew this was not easy but that I would pray it was short-term. I asked him if he was offering this time up as penance and he laughed. He said he most certainly was offering it up.
It was sad to leave our friend behind. I have been in many nursing homes and I have to say this is one of the saddest. It's hard for me to accept that this is the best we can do for people at the end of their lives.
As we made our way through the winding corridor to the exit, a large, pleasant man pushing a cart passed us. I surmised the cart contained Sunday dinner.
"I'll bet the food's not very good here," Rebecca said.
"I have a feeling you're right."
When we got back out onto the street, I tried to find out what the score was.
"What does it matter?" my youngest asked me, in exasperation. Good question.
At the end of my life, the Lord will give no merit for what my favorite football team did on any given Sunday. He may, however, look with mercy on the way we spent a beautiful Fall afternoon.