Our leadership team walked through the campus singing Christmas carols. We came to the dining room for folks who needed a great deal of assistance with daily living – many suffered from varying degrees of memory loss.

Ina sat in the back of the room.  Ina’s husband, a Pastor, had died quite a few years earlier.  She had been a terrific Pastor’s wife, coming alongside her husband on a 24/7 basis.

My Mom was a Pastor’s wife and, like most pastor’s wives, had really focused on knowing people’s name. It did not surprise me that each time I talked with Ina she asked my name. I would tell her – only to have her ask my name again a few moments later. 

Just prior to the start of the Christmas caroling, Ina and I had our usual conversation.  She asked and I answered about my name several times. Conversing with her always included this challenge and made “regular” conversation nearly impossible.

We started to sing the carols. As we sang, Ina knew the words to every single carol we sang.  One particular carol still stands out in my mind. As the song began, Ina put her head back, her face lit up into a beautiful glow and she sang with all the gusto she could possibly muster.

As we finished the first verse, I signaled the guitar player who led the caroling to sing all the verses.  Ina knew every word and her voice rang out loud and clear. As she sang, one could clearly picture the Ina that had walked alongside her husband as a wonderful and committed Pastor’s wife. 

I can still close my eyes – just like it was yesterday – and see Ina singing those carols.  Her singing of the third verse of “Away in a Manger” in particular will always be part of my unforgettable stories and memories.

“Be near me Lord Jesus

I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever

And love me I pray.

Bless all the dear children

In thy tender care.

And take us to heaven

To live with Thee there.”

Several months after we sang those carols with Ina, this beautiful child of God experienced first-hand and in person the meaning of “Away in a Manger.”

Merry Christmas from Lessons Learned Solutions