Stories of Care – Maria

Stories of Care – Maria

by Sr. Bernadette Fadegnon                               Republic of Benin/ Brazil                                          02.06.2024

It all started with a visit after a parishioner shared with two of the Sisters about Maria, a woman in her 80s who had been an active parishioner but she was no longer able to participate in the community.  She could not even leave her house due to her age, depression and ill health. Maria had expressed a wish to go to the old people home because she has no relatives in the city and, since she left the village in her youth and now with no siblings alive, she didn’t want to go back. The parish priest knew but took no action.

Like the attitude of Mary at the Visitation, we set out in haste to visit this woman. We arrived in a dark place like a hole. It looks like nobody lived there. It was a tight passage leading to a narrow staircase up to a small house. Thank God there was a bit of opening upstairs that allows air and light to enter. Maria again expressed her desire to go to the old people’s home. Why? She said that it was not just a desire but a necessity.

We left her and agreed that one of us would make inquiries and see the possibility of bringing forward her request. We had no idea that looking for an old people’s house for her was going to be so quick!  Sister Ana made contact with one of the old people’s homes of the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Theresa. They said they would visit Maria within a week.

The day they visited Maria, one of us accompanied them, on their way back from the visit, they made a short call sharing how excited and anxious the woman was about the old people’s home.

Following up on her case we went to visit her another day and it was one of the days she was very low. She was quite depressed. When I shared the message of the Sisters, she started asking a series of questions like “Who are there? Where is the place? How many people do they have? And the questions continued and finally she said she thinks that she can’t go because she is sick and this and that… Her fears and doubts seemed to expand at every word she spoke. That was a day of deep depression!

Here came a wise suggestion. The other older Sister who went with me whispered to me. “Maybe we should propose to her a day for a casual visit to the old people’s home so that she can see and have a feel of the place? Maybe that may help to provide answers to her questions?” I loved the idea and asked her to share it directly to Maria in the hearing of everyone. Obviously that was a smart idea that everyone liked. We suggested that Maria come with us and bring a second person of her trust to come with her. Then, I made an appointment with the old people’s home.

D day came and Maria was ready for the visit. The Centre, which is also the sister’s convent, was spacious, and clean. We met the other nine old women that were being cared for by the Sisters. Maria and her companion were shown around and the Sister answered some of her questions. Maria seemed to be happy and loved the place. On our way back it was obvious she was chattier though that doesn’t mean her fears were totally removed.

She thanked us as well as others. We left praying that the visit may help her to make the decision.
After three days, Maria decided to go to the old people’s home. We helped her make the move on the assigned day.
We kept contact with the Sisters through phone calls and we paid them a visit. She seemed to be keeping well and she looked well.
We thank God for the opportunity to express the MMM healing charism through going in haste and in collaboration with the lay people and the Missionary Sisters of Mother Teresa. May God reward all those who have been part of her story bringing food and or cooking for her and those who indicated her to us for our intervention. We are grateful to each one of them and especially to the Sisters who were very open and generous to accept her unconditionally, to give her care and attention. Maria had motivated a big solidarity among the women of the neighborhood. This case was a lesson for me, that being vulnerable is not just sad or bad. It can also be looked at from a positive side and open other peoples’ hearts and minds for their kindness.

We pray that all will go well for Maria and that she will find a home in the old people’s home so that there won’t be any need to come back to live alone at her age of 84 years.