~The Starfish Story ~
~ Adapted from The Star Thrower ~
~ by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977) ~
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."
The answer is yes. It would make a difference to that one.
We met Mary at the beginning of June. While working, my husband was called to a rehabilitation center regarding the suspician of someone taking advantage of an elderly person. He took care of the situation, and after all was said and done, began chatting with her. Mary is 94 years old. She was married at one time, but had no children. She is the 8th of 11 siblings, but the only one living. She had many nephews and neices, but most have passed on themselves. This left her with just a handful of relatives several states away who were already beginning to age themselves.
As Mary put it, she had "no one". No one.
No one to care for her needs. No one to go home to when she was released from Rehab, no one to check on her home, no one to pay her bills, no one to visit her, no one to laugh with, no one to love. No one.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you already know I have an extraordinary husband. If you haven't, now is my time to brag little.
My husband is strong, logical, smart, straight-forward, matter-of-fact, and steady. He is also the most loving, kind, generous, good-hearted godly man I have ever met. He loves people with a passion. His heart went out to Mary at that moment, and I believe in his heart he began to pray about how we could help her. That night over dinner, he told me about Mary. He wanted me to meet her, we decided to go after church the following day, the 4th of July, and visit Mary.
When we walked in, Mary saw Mike and her face lit up. She had the sweetest smile and such a twinkle in her eye. It was obvious to me that she had already bonded with my husband...a connection had been made. We sat and chatted for a while, then went on our way, promising to be back soon. And we were.
Over the next several weeks we visited Mary many times, we took her out to lunch and to visit her home. We visited her at rehab and during our conversations we learned so much about her life. Mike began to take care of the things she was unable to handle from rehab; paying her bills, contacting her lawn man, bug guy, and friends who had called to check on her. She had no way to make those contacts, and he was her "lifeline". She was physically weak, and quite obviously wanting to get out of Rehab, but she would not be able to live alone anymore.
We began to think and talk about possibilities. Before talking to Mary, the two of us discussed bringing her to our home, to live with us. We were both aware that this would be a huge undertaking. However, this was a LIFE, someones LIFE we were talking about. How could we put a value on that? How could we put simple freedoms such as running to thrift stores, or Starbucks, or out to lunch on a whim, before someone's life? A lot of things in my own life were coming into perspective. Our son is grown, we have a room, I do not work outside my home, I have the time and the ability to care for her. We prayed, often and fervently for guidance, direction, and answers. God answered with a peace in our hearts.
The overwhelming feeling was that God had placed Mary in our lives for a reason.
During our next few visits with Mary, we asked her about this option. Would she want to come live with us? She said yes, but she was concerned about the expense it would be to us. She was concerned that she would be a burden to us. This 94 year old woman who was so in need, was concerned about being a burden. My heart melted. We told her it would be a blessing for us to have her in our home, that we wanted her "golden years" to be lived out in a loving environment, not a cold hospital-like atmosphere. She gave us the biggest twinkling smile and said yes. She would love to come and live with us and we would be like "one big happy family". Wow. I believe she was craving a family, as she had lived alone for so many years.
However, bringing Mary home with us would turn out to be more of a challenge than we expected...
"Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow."
...come back tomorrow for Part 2.