Maxine, “Max”, was referred to Hospice for end stage renal disease at the age of 77. Max was an attractive lady, about five feet tall with short silver-grey hair. She wore large framed blue tinted glasses which, in my mind, made her look like a little hoot owl. When I asked Max for permission to write and publish her story, I explained that I usually start out by describing a person in a way that the readers can visualize and identify with. Max, appearing concerned, requested “Just be nice to me.” With a smile I told Max, “But I do have to be honest.” Then Max exclaimed, “Well, I’m done for then. But at least be gentle.” I hope this story is nice and gentle.
Max lived alone in her own home with support from her family and a hired caregiver. She’d been in nursing homes, but she always worked her way back home. Max was a fighter. I complimented Max during one of my visits. “Max, you don’t act very old”, and she replied, “I don’t feel old inside. On a good day I feel 16 inside. But you should see me on a bad day. Then I feel every year.” I told Max that I still see myself as being in my early thirties and then with a wide grin she responded, “I bet that when you look in the mirror it sure is a big disappointment then isn’t it?”
One day I discovered that Max was “a little sneaky.” Sue, Max’s hospice aid, noticed that Max wasn’t taking the full dose of her prescribed medication. Max told Sue that her family wasn’t giving it to her. So I paid Max a visit that afternoon to investigate. I pointed out to Max that she had possession of her medications and that she could take them whenever she wanted. Being cornered she confessed, “Well, I really don’t like to take very much medication.” I responded, “Oh, I see. I fear I’ve underestimated your sneakiness.” She grinned and asked, “Do you really think I’m sneaky? I’m not sneaky!”
During another one of my visits Max confided, “My daughter and I aren’t talking to each other.” Her daughter from Louisiana had come to stay with her for awhile, but decided to cut her visit short after they’d gotten into a heated argument. Her daughter was staying with her brother until she could book a flight back home. I asked Max, “Seeing that it might be the last time you see each other, do you really want to part on those terms?” Max replied, “It’s not my fault and besides, what can I do about it now?” Considering that was a question that deserved an answer, we talked about it.
I told Max that their situation reminded me of the lyrics of the country music video by Travis Tritt, titled, “Foolish Pride.” I paraphrased the lyrics for Max but I’m quoting them for you- “She thinks that if she calls him it just shows weakness. So the hurt goes on with every tear she cries. Isn’t it sad to see a good love fall to pieces; chalk another heartbreak up to foolish pride, and while the bridges burn another hard hard lesson’s learned, chalk up another love lost due to foolish pride.”
Max and I talked about how in relationships there’s no such thing as a winner and a loser, either you both win or you both lose. We talked about how we can win an argument but lose a relationship. We talked about how all offenses don’t have to be settled, that they can simply be forgiven. We talked about how “love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8). We talked about how sometimes all it takes is for someone to make the first move. When I left that day I challenged Max to make the first move.
The next day, to my surprise, I received a call from Max’s daughter telling me that she and Max had made amends and how thankful and relieved she was to be returning to Louisiana with their relationship restored. And it just so happened that they’d both made the first move. While Max was leaving a voice mail message on her son’s telephone, asking her daughter to come over, her daughter was already on the way.
Is “foolish pride” standing between you and someone you care about? If so, I encourage you to swallow your foolish pride and make the first move.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother.” (Matthew 5:23 – 24)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-356-2525.