Recently, our local newspaper announced the winners of its annual “Salute to Nurses.” Each year, the newspaper works with some local colleges and medical organizations to recognize these individuals because, as the newspaper’s website explains, “Nurses are often present at some of the most valuable points of human life — saving lives, healing, delivering babies, caring for the sick and dying.”
The newspaper and other sponsors host the website, so anyone — a patient, a family member, a doctor, another nurse, an administrator, literally anyone — can nominate a particular nurse for this honor. This year, from hundreds of nominations, they chose 10 winners and 14 finalists. Since I was totally unaware of this annual tradition until recently, I would like to nominate someone as well. Unfortunately, I don’t recall her name, but perhaps just describing her simple act of kindness will not only demonstrate the wonderful care that all medical professionals provide on a daily basis but also allow others to appreciate that care and kindness.
About three years ago, our 30-year-old daughter, Maria, endured a short but devastating battle with cancer. After about a month in one hospital, the doctors recommended that Maria be moved to a hospice wing in another nearby hospital. Naturally, we were all shocked and sad and disheartened, but after receiving second and third opinions, we tried to adjust as we made arrangements for the transfer.
Finally, on a cold, wintry Tuesday afternoon, the transport service came at about 4:00 o’clock to bring Maria from the hospital to the hospice facility. We had already cleaned out all the cards and gifts and miscellaneous stuff we had accumulated there, and two or three nurses and patient-care assistants were taking care of all of Maria’s medical paraphernalia such as her IV drip and other items.
Meanwhile, the transport workers had wheeled in their bed to move Maria from the hospital to the ambulance, and in the midst of all that craziness, one particularly kind and compassionate young lady noticed that Maria’s feet were uncovered. And even though Maria was somewhat out of it at the time, this tender soul spoke to Maria sweetly and lovingly.
“Maria, it’s cold out there today. I’m going to get you a pair of socks.”
Then, this young woman left the room and returned within 30 seconds with a pair of those ugly, but warm, red-and-white socks with the slip-proof attachments on the bottom. She gently lifted Maria’s feet, one at a time, and slowly and carefully rolled the socks over Maria’s toes and ankles up to the mid-point of her calves. This compassionate servant would likely never see Maria again, and Maria was leaving to spend her final days on earth in another hospital, yet this nurse did not want Maria’s feet to be cold on the two-mile ambulance journey from one hospital to the next.
As I recall that day and that particular experience, I am reminded of a song that I just heard today on Christian radio. Singer-songwriter Josh Wilson recorded “Dream Small,” and one of the song’s key lines accentuates the main idea that if we focus on small acts of mercy, “these simple moments change the world.”
So thank you to all the nurses out there who are changing the world day by day, and a special thank you to this special unnamed soul. Of all the wonderful care that Maria received during her extensive hospital stay, this simple Christ-like act of love and compassion was the sweetest instance of simple human kindness I have ever witnessed.