Posted February 19, 2008 by
This morning I met one of our volunteers at a nursing home so that I could introduce her to one of our patients. It was bitterly cold today, the wind whipping down across the lake, chilling me through in seconds each time I got out of the car to hurry to my next destination.
I stopped to pick up some hard candies at the grocery store before going to the nursing home because the last time I was there, the nurse told me that this patient has dry mouth and just loves hard candies. He lit up when I handed them to him and seemed surprised and delighted to see that I had a second visitor with me — one of our new volunteers who also happens to be a nursing student.
The volunteer, who had just spent 18 hours in our training over the weekend and then spent a full day in school yesterday seemed tireless and immediately began caring for this patient — an elderly dying man who only has a nephew to visit him once a week for ten minutes or so. My volunteer fussed over him, helping him with his breakfast and wiping his chin without hesitation.
And when I left after 45 minutes the two of them were practically old friends and his cheeks had turned a rosy pink from all the attention.
Walking home tonight, again in the bitterly cold with my scarf wrapped up around my face, I checked my email on my phone and read one from this volunteer saying that she stayed with him for over four hours, just talking and taking care of him and listening to his stories. She talked about how lonely he was and about how much this time together meant to both of them.
After I finished reading her email I clicked off my phone and buried my hands in pockets, my face back into my scarf, and walked on, my heart fuller than it’s been in a long time.
If just this–this moment, this day, this patient’s loneliness abated for a short time–took all the pain I went through over the loss of my parents, then it was worth it.