Tuesday, September 17, 2013

GRATITUDE TUESDAY: THE WOMAN WHOSE LOVE WAS BLIND

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The RN at the nursing home screwed up her face in disdain. He's so gross, she said. Can you imagine having to give him CPR? she asked. I'd vomit, she said. He's a monster, she said.

The person in question was a man named Larry. He was one of our youngest residents. He was probably 30-something. He had some kind of disease or disorder – I never knew what it was – that was increasingly debilitating. He had raised red birthmarks covering most of his face, in addition to large pustules, mostly on his face and back. He quite often asked us to scratch his back. I know he was uncomfortable, but I didn't see much being done to help him feel better.

Larry was also kind of annoying. No matter how many times we showed him the procedure for using the call light, he wouldn't do it. When he wanted something, he called out MA'AM MA'AM, over and over in his whiny nasal voice.

I think I was patient with Larry. I hope I was. He was one of the patients I put into bed first during the evening because I knew he was uncomfortable sitting up.

But I found the sight of his face disgusting. I saw a lot of nasty things in the nursing home, such as bedsores that went down to the bone, but it was Larry's face that bothered me.

Then on Christmas Eve I was working with my friend Lynn. We had always gotten along well.

Before Lynn left for the evening, she visited all of her patients, giving them a goodnight kiss and wishing them a Merry Christmas.

She did not skip Larry.

After that I noticed that every time she went off duty, Lynn kissed her patients goodnight. If Larry wasn't her patient, Lynn made a special visit to his room to say I love you before sealing it with a kiss.

Lynn never belittled a patient. She never said that Larry was gross and annoying. Her love was completely unconditional.

I was never able to kiss Larry, but I learned from Lynn's example. I tried to see Larry as a person, and not as a face at which I didn't want to look. I took more time to scratch his back and rub lotion on it.

Lynn, I don't know where you are now, but I'm still grateful for you. You set such a good example, without criticizing any of the rest of us.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

20 comments:

  1. Lynn must've been an angel! I'm not sure I could've done what she did.

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  2. She was a very compassionate person.

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  3. Great story. We all need to hear/read more stories like this in our lives. Thanks for sharing.

    Love, andi

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  4. Lynne and you and people like you bring dignity and beauty to marginalized people. Thank you to all of you. You all light the way for the rest of us, and what a lovely light it is.

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  5. We all could use a Lynn in our lives!!

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  6. Your nursing home stories always make me think of my dad. He was younger than most in the nursing home where he lived, and his mind was better than most. It was just his body that was broken. There were some staff members that were genuinely kind, while others were not so kind. I know he wasn't an easy patient and I am so thankful to those who were kind to him during his final months.

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    1. I had a special fondness for the difficult patients. I liked trying to figure out how to help them. It was similar to solving a mystery.

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  7. But what happened to Larry? Did he get better?

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    1. He was still alive when I left, but he wasn't going to get better.

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  8. Ah. It's people like Lyn (and you) that make the world go round!

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  9. Lynn sounds like a truly amazing woman, she was god sent to those like Larry who really needed someone like her in their lives.

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  10. Some people you meet are so inspiring!
    I might have given him a kiss on his head. ;)

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    1. I couldn't even bring myself to kiss his head. It was that bad. In addition to all the skin crud, a terrible odor hung onto him. Showers and after shave didn't take it away.

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