A big share of what one sees in life depends on what they’re looking for. Each day I see dedicated family or staff taking time to have a little one-to-one time with a resident. I love this story about the love of a husband for his wife who had Alzheimer’s.
It was a busy morning at the clinic, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry, as he had an appointment at 9 a.m.
I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.
The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.
As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in three years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?”
He smiled, as he patted my hand, and said: “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.”
I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm and thought, “That is the kind of love I want in my life.”
Any one of our staff members could be the empathetic, caring person in this next story.
Rocking With Me – Author Unknown
There was once an elderly, despondent woman in a nursing home. She wouldn’t speak to anyone or request anything. She merely existed, rocking in her creaky old rocking chair.
The old woman didn’t have many visitors. But every couple mornings, a concerned and wise young nurse would go into her room. She didn’t try to speak or ask questions of the old lady. She simply pulled up another rocking chair beside the old woman and rocked with her.
Weeks or months later, the old woman finally spoke.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for rocking with me.”
I often tell people to adopt a resident here and send a card to them on certain occasions. You should see how many times they joyfully open the card again and again to re-read it.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. — Leo Buscaglia
Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix; and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.