I was fresh out of high school. A young, 18 year old girl, living a dysfunctional life of ignorance. I took a job at a nursing home working with the elderly as a nursing assistant. A pretty tough job for an 18 year old that weighed 90 pounds soaking wet. Everyday I bathed, changed, fed, and dressed people 3 times my size and dead weight. I loved them dearly, even though most days I got cussed out, spit on, or hit, because someone would decide that they were not having a shower or going to eat that day. For the most part everyone was grateful for the help and they became family to me.
But there was one lady that was extra special. Mary Lee Armentrout. She was in her upper 80s. A small white haired lady that would snap you off in a second. She was a retired school teacher that never had any children of her own. She was cared for by a niece who came to visit periodically. You could say she was ornery most of the time and the other nursing staff did not take well to her. But I had a fondness towards her and she to me. Her room was the first place I went at 630 every morning and I believe my bright greeting to the day somehow brought joy to her life. I was especially intrigued by the Gap and Old Navy clothing that she had hanging in her small wooden wardrobe. Not typical of the other residents style in the home. Seemed I took extra time with her everyday in the dressing process. I made sure she was fixed just so.
One December day, I guess I was battling depression, self pity, loneliness, Mrs. Armentrout gave me a sweet gift. A Christmas Gift. I had just finished assisting her with a shower, helped her dress , and sat her beside her bed in her wheelchair. We had been talking about Christmas and I stated that, "I just don't feel the Christmas Spirit this year.". Standing in her bath room cleaning her smudged glasses, I heard her feeble voice from across the room.
"And there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those
with whom he is pleased! ' " Luke 2:8-14
I stood there with her fragile glasses in my hands. I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror, tears falling on my face. I turned and looked at my friend who had just reminded me of the truth. "Thank You." was all I could say. I heard that passage with new ears that day. I received it as a gift. I wrote this post because I don't want to forgot Mary Lee Armentrout, nor the gift that she gave me that Christmas. No, I want to REMEMBER....
Do you remember when you received the gift of Christmas? Have you received the gift of Christmas? You will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager.