I realize as I write this that it’s tempting to dwell on the difficulties of this position. Yes there are many, but the positives are just as numerous. Here’s just a few I’ve experienced:
A stroke patient who, while she is only able to say “yeah” most of the time, forces out “I’m glad to see you” when I visit.
My dementia patent who holds my hand like I’m her boyfriend every time I visit.
Every veteran who has shared a story about their service. I’ve known a man who survived days at sea after being torpedoed, another who was supposed to have lifted the flag at Iwo Jima if he hadn’t hurt his ankle, and another who was the only one in his platoon who survived the landing at Normandy because he was stateside getting married.
Baptising a patient just a few weeks before he passed, then passing the framed photo on to his widow.
Seeing folks’ faces light up when we present them with a birthday cake.
Having a patient tell me that they want me to do their funeral.
To reassure someone that, after 80 years, they’ve done a good job.
To appreciate the silence and quietness of God’s presence in a room as someone sleeps.
To give someone the final blessing they will ever have in this life.
I’ve met one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s secretaries, an engineer who helped design the World Trade Center, and a man who ran the drill that dug the Holland Tunnel.
I’ve heard stories and met people that will be with me all my life. And that is good.