Ahna Lloyd serves as the Life Enrichment Director at The Farmstead in Andover, MN. She recently reflected on why she chooses to serve older adults in ministry with Presbyterian Homes & Services and realized, there are several people who helped inform her decision.
“Some of my earliest memories include going to Vernon Manor Nursing Home to visit my grandpa Maynard. I remember the residents lighting up with smiles as we visited or sang songs. My mom says I learned to walk at my grandpa’s nursing home. I am grateful that I had this opportunity to love and serve older adults and that I can pass it on to my four-year-old son Jack.
"Our next-door neighbor Harold was a surrogate grandpa for the kids in my family. He was born and raised in West Virginia, and lived 60 years in Wisconsin, but kept his thick Southern drawl. He would drive us to Wal-Mart to get dolls and he often came over for dinner as his family lived in the South. I witnessed my parents ministering to him by mowing his lawn, setting up medical appointments and transporting him to church services. My parents were truly the hands and feet of Jesus.
"Growing up in small town Wisconsin, we often visited my very Norwegian grandma in a tiny village of 800 people. My grandma Thelma, or ‘Gumra’ as we called her, taught me how to draw, how to laugh at myself and that life is too short to be taken so seriously. She passed away in 2006 and it was the hardest thing I had to go through; she was my best friend. Shortly before she passed, she taught me about the Norwegian tradition of ‘julebukking’ (yoo-la booking) where one dresses up in a mask and costume and goes to a friend’s house for coffee but does not reveal their identity.
"My grandma was not a typical grandma. With her funny remarks, hilarious Norwegian slang, and a crazy sense of humor, everyone who mentions her name talks about how funny and welcoming she was. It was her spirit that ignited my desire to serve older adults, because she knew that at any age, one must have fun and enjoy their life.
"I learned to play her little electric organ and continued to take piano lessons throughout my adolescence. In my current role I am an unofficial music therapist. Residents love listening to piano music and tell me I could play all day (I wish I could sometimes!). As I play piano and watch the residents sing along or gently bob their heads from side to side, I think of how proud my grandma would be that I chose this occupation. Without a doubt, she had a hand in my development as a Life Enrichment Director.
"I love being creative and having fun with the residents. I like to take them out of their comfort zones, and give them a reprieve, albeit temporary, from the burdens they may be carrying.
"I love sharing my life with them. The residents continue to bestow knowledge and wisdom to me, whether it’s advice on marriage, parenting, gardening, organization, or simply praying for me, I love having a ‘job’ that impacts people’s lives. That is ‘My Why.’”