Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I have been to a ton of funeral services and memorial services in my life. I thought I had seen it all. But I have never been to a service that compares to the one I attended today.
I wrote about E.K. Johnson here a couple of times. For those of you who don’t remember, you can click here for the first article. And here for the last article I wrote about him.
I got notification last week that they were having a memorial service for E.K. at Central State Hospital today. As his legal guardian,I suppose I am considered his only survivor. Although I feel strongly that I have carried out the wishes of both my dad and E.K.’s mother, I felt compelled to go to this service today.
I’m glad I did.
The audience was made up largely of elderly people who have been life-long residents of this state mental hospital. To put it lightly, when I stood up to say a few words to this group I saw one of the saddest sights I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the residents have families that even check on them. I would think for the most were put there many years ago when they were young and now their parents have died. Or maybe some have relatives who have forgotten. I’m sure that is not true for all but I would bet that is true for most. It was obvious that they were severely mentally handicapped. I can tell you it was difficult for me to keep my train of thought when trying to communicate with this audience.
But as I was feeling sorry for the residents, I was inspired by the caregivers sitting by their sides. I’m not sure how many patients per caregiver there were, but the ratio was very small. In other words there were a lot of caregivers. I could not help but think about the special person it takes to spend their days caring for someone severely mentally challenged. It has to be a calling.
I am convinced God did not put these mentally challenged folks on earth for themselves. I feel certain He put them here for us - to give all of us an opportunity to show compassion for people who cannot take care of themselves.
I’ll say again what I have said on this blog many times: Success is not about how much money we make or our position in life or what we have accumulated. But success is about using our God given talents to help people God has put in our paths.
I saw that as clearly as I’ve ever seen it today.
It is the highest calling we have.