May 25, 2014

Lessons from Shady Pines, #781

Shuffle On Like Leon

When the creators of Up! developed the main character, Carl Fredrickson, I'm convinced they modeled him after Leon at Shady Pines. Leon, aside from a thick head of hair, could literally be Carl. He shuffles as he walks with his walker. He has that prominent, round nose smack in the middle of his face. And, although Leon has a very sweet disposition, his eye brows are always furrowed as if someone is trying to steal his house. If Leon showed up in the dining room with a talking dog, a boy scout and a colorful bird following him, I wouldn't think twice about it.

I only see Leon when I'm at Shady Pines during a meal time. I don't know where his room is or if it's filled with helium balloons. I don't see him when we sit in the living room so my niece can play with the toys they have stashed there for kiddos like her. I don't see him when I initially walk into Shady Pines and am accosted, because I walk well, with pleas and requests to help move a seated-resident from one place to another. I only see him at meal times.

And, more days than not, Leon will shuffle into his table, just caddy corner from my mom's table, and turn himself around and shuffle right back to his room. He'll smile at me (or anyone else for that matter) and explain, "I forgot my teeth."

Now, I'm not knocking Shady Pines's menu offerings, but there's not one meal that they serve that would actually require a working set of teeth. They are cooking for a room-full of older people who can no longer be independent. Their food is gummable, to say the very least. But, Leon retrieves his teeth anyway. I suppose that if a ribeye were ever placed in front of Leon, he'd be ready to tackle it.

This will generally mean that Leon gets his food toward the end. Because each resident has a different dietary requirement, the dining room staff write down the names of the residents in the order in which they are seated so that no one has to sit too long. It's not a perfect system as there is generally a flurry of activity (as much as there can be a flurry of activity at Shady Pines), but with Leon leaving to retrieve his teeth at his shuffling pace, this almost guarantees he'll be served toward the end.

Leon, however, doesn't complain. He smiles, he shuffles, he eventually eats. Now, in my house of four able-bodied human beings who begin asking what's for dinner as soon as lunch is over, if I were to suggest that they leave the table to do something like get a fork or wash their hands or whatever, I would get a gnashing of teeth and a wailing of voices.

I hope that I can learn to smile through my delays and shuffle on like Leon.

Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverence finish so that you may be complete and not lack anything. James 1: 2-4


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