Nowhere to sleep-taken from my Facebook post 8-11-15
After 25 years in physical therapy, today I saw another first. I met a man in an assisted living facility who had moved into his one bedroom apartment without a bed. Instead, he filled his entire bedroom with books! I couldn’t help but think of 3 of my daughters. This man had rows of bookshelves COMPLETELY full of books extending overhead almost to the ceiling. There were 3 aisles of shelves in the room, and the perimeter was lined with bookcases as well. There was just enough room to roll his wheeled walker in between the rows of shelves. The man had brought one old recliner to sleep on, which he placed in the small living area, again surrounded by books (and some classic movies).
When I asked if he could show me how he gets around his apartment he naturally took me into the library and began to point out collections of books, “This section is the Roman history section. This one is Greek. These are about WWII, and this is my Tolkien collection” (my mind wandered back again to my daughters).
He begged for time to show me a book written describing how his infantry division had invaded enemy lines taken by North Korea. Then, with tears in his eyes, he told me the stories of two survivors (of 400 men) who had invaded with a division just prior to his. He described their battle to deal with the carnage they had witnessed, and how, inspired by the two brave men, his division later went on to defeat their opponent. He had many interesting things to say. I was honored to meet this gentleman, and to hear a bit of history I otherwise would never have known.
I was reminded again today of the importance of listening, and of honoring others. We have a richer life when we do so. I almost always enjoy something in common with the person I meet, and I grow as a person myself as I listen to their stories.
*Addendum: In the two months I have now known this gentleman, we have had wonderful conversations about quantum physics, nuclear canons, and about theology. He has told me many war stories, and stories about his family. He never speaks of his wife without tears of fond remembrance and without giving her credit for raising four great kids. It has been a delight to get to know this man. It is a privilege of listening.