The person next door

January 26, 2023

By Jeff Becraft


As I have probably mentioned before, my Dad now has to live at a skilled nursing facility that gives more acute care. It is in a renovated house and only has about 5-6 patients in it.

Because of privacy issues, I can’t give all the details but in the room next to my Dad’s, is a gentleman who is very quiet. A few times I have waved to him as I have entered my Dad’s room. I had never heard him speak… and I had never verbally spoken to him.

On Christmas day, several of us in the family piled into Dad’s room. We had a great time and even sang some Christmas carols… with my brother even doing a solo of Good King Wenceslas.  (Even with the singing and commotion, it was still nothing compared to the rambunctious hurricane a few weeks later when our son and his two young kids, ages three and one, had come to visit their great-grandfather.)

I just found out recently that on Christmas day, my brother, Ed, had stuck his head in the room of the gentleman next door and had wished him a Merry Christmas and offered him some Christmas cookies. The gentleman thanked him but told him because of his condition, he couldn’t have any.

This struck me deeply. Why had I never spoken to the man? Is it because I thought he wanted his privacy? Or was it because I knew he must have a serious medical condition and I didn’t know what to say?

And so I just bypass him time after time…?

My brother’s actions greatly moved me. It reinforced in my heart two things:

1.    Every life is valuable.

2.    It is better to take chances. What was my “playing it safe” communicating? Maybe, “You are really not important… I’m just here to see my Dad.” But my brother reached out. And even though the man couldn’t eat the cookies, he knew that someone noticed him and someone cared.

There are a lot of hurting and lonely people out there.


Jeff Becraft is the Interim Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].