To care for the elderly means then that we allow the elderly to make us poor by inviting us to give up the illusion that we created our own life and that nothing or nobody can take it away from us. This poverty, which is an inner detachment, can make us free to receive the old stranger into our lives and make that person into a most intimate friend.
When care has made us poor by detaching us from the illusion of immortality, we can really become present to the elderly. We can then listen to what they say without worrying about how we can answer. We can pay attention to what they have to offer without being concerned about what we can give. We can see what they are in themselves without wondering what we can be for them. When we have emptied ourselves of false occupations and preoccupations, we can offer free space to old strangers, where not only bread and wine but also the story of life can be shared.