Nursing homes are generally not nice places. There are those, of course, which have multiple levels of care and some of the areas are quite pleasant in terms of their decor, but other areas of the building are less so. There is a good reason, of course. As the human mind and body begin to fail it’s not hygienic to have very many soft, absorbent surfaces.

The Sturgis nursing home isn’t one of those luxuriously appointed places. It’s not dirty. The staff are, in my observation, very kind and concerned about the welfare of their patients. They do the best they can with the resources they have. But they are chronically understaffed and once again, based on my observation, there is a lot of turnover. It’s not unusual to walk through the doors of the unit and be hit in the face with the odor of urine or feces.

All of the pastors in town take turns doing Sunday services there. I have to say that in the past leading worship services in the nursing homes was one of my least favorite duties. The staff in some nursing homes seem to think of it as babysitting for an hour or so, and roll in all the dementia patients they can find. The well behaved ones just sleep. Some of them mutter or talk or even cry out and interrupt services. Thus, even though things weren’t quite that bad at the Sturgis Nursing Home, it has generally been one of those things I had thought was a waste of my time. I suppose I conduct worship at the Sturgis nursing home three or four times a year. It was in that context that I met Hilda.

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