Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Back Rub

"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 F. Buscaglia

My friend Po wrote a post about a man who helped a sparrow who had flown into the warehouse where he worked.

"The man gently cupped his hands around the bird, carried it to safety and released it to the sky. ”Oh! How that felt! Great!” he said."

A dear friend has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks. She was diagnosed with lung cancer. This lady has been going to our church longer than my family - give or take 50 years. She is coming up on 95 years old. She was a good friend of my parents. On Wednesday last week, I visited her in the hospital. She didn't look sick at all. She gave me her big Shirley smile. As I held her hand she told me she's not afraid to die, but she is afraid of being in pain. So many times my father said the same thing.

When I asked if there was anything she wanted or needed me to do, she commented how dry her skin is and she'd love some cream rubbed on them. There wasn't any cream around, so today when I went to visit, I took some. As our priest friend prepared to give her communion I proceeded to rub her hands, arms and then her back. I was reminded of the ministry of touch. It's not like I gave her a full-on massage or anything. But the act of rubbing her back was as much a gift for me, as it was for her. Like the man who freed the sparrow, I have to say, "Oh! How that felt! Great!"

I held back my tears until I left her room.

My priest friend told me as we left that I am a "natural." And you know what ... I am. I don't know why but I do have a deep compassion for people who are sick - especially old people who are often left in the hospital by themselves. Is that what people mean when they say they are "called"?

I remember how tired I got as my Dad neared the end of his life. It was hard to feel "called" or compassionate 24/7. My Dad didn't often like to have "greasy" stuff rubbed into his skin. I know how tired my friend's family is getting. She had an accident about a year ago and her son has been with her ever since. I know, even with hospice care, the road ahead will not be easy for them. I'm just selfish enough to hope they'll call me to spell them for an hour or two.
I won't be able to change the direction of her life, but I just might be able to make her a little more comfortable. This is a good thing.

Wishing good things for you,
Merry ME


Cinderella said...

You are very sweet, and it is friends like you who make ALL the difference when someone is on their last days/weeks on this earth. That sort of kindness and caring is essential. Thank you for what you do - it matters!

Anonymous said...

I wish I had known you when my yaya was in her last days.
It was so hard for me to ask for help.
The rest of the family was struggling to hard with their own issues.
I never thought to ask a friend for help, but then there were none where I was..
where she lived...

Lucy said...

What a wonderful gift to have and I am sure they would accept your offer or if you popped in, since you are already a friend.