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Living and working with seniors has taught me simply this: “So much of the very essence of life is realizing what you have in real time.”

Each day we wake up, we are given a divine invitation to life. What we do with that invitation is up to us. We have a choice.

  • Do we shrink from pain and risks or do we live boldly?
  • Do we tell others we have “disabilities” or do we simply say we have a “shift in abilities”?
  • Do we dwell on the passing of those who have gone before us or do we remember the glory of their spirits?

I will never forget the time Lenbrook staff was told that we would be receiving an “alumna” from an inpatient hospice. I never knew such a thing existed. And then I met Miss Mandy [1] .

Having thrived in the care of an inpatient hospice staff, Miss Mandy had lived well beyond her doctor’s expectations. Since death did not seem imminent, Miss Mandy moved to our skilled nursing center.

Excited about being among the residents of Lenbrook, she would get her walker and head down to the Event Center to enjoy the music of our Saturday Tea Dances. We all found her charm and deep appreciation for every second of life disarming; what an easy person to love she was!

Having given all her jewelry away while in hospice, Miss Mandy soon found herself calling her family members asking them to please bring her jewelry back because she still had occasions to wear them.

A quiet miracle was unfolding in front of our very eyes. Mandy was being loved back to life and what a life it was! It was the best sermon I have ever seen.

In short, Miss Mandy realized what she had in real time. Well into her nineties, she knew that there was still a divine invitation to life with her name on it and she dared to take God up on His invitation.

I encourage us all to realize what we have in real time, just as Miss Mandy did. I like the way Theodore Roosevelt so wisely said:

“For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the sheltered will never know.”

[1] Name has been changed for confidentiality.

Robbye Jarrell is a full-time Chaplain at Lenbrook, providing support and counsel to residents in a multitude of ways. From conducting services on Sundays to coordinating Ecumenical community events, Robbye shares her spirit, joy and love of life with everyone at Lenbrook. She is an ordained Presbyterian Minister and serves on the Board of The Georgia Institute on Aging.