“Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7
This is what I thought recently when the nurse at the care center said “What is this? Oh, you’re just a volunteer” when I asked her to sign the form to confirm I had been there visiting my hospice patient. I have been volunteering for hospice for almost four years now. Most of my patients have been suffering slow deaths. They have been old and either have Alzheimers or one of the other cognitive diseases that take away a person’s speech, memory, mobility, independence, and dignity.
I have been visiting this particular patient, Mary, for a year and a half and am always amazed at her ability to maintain a pleasant, smiling, and laughing demeanor despite her affliction. On her “off” days, she just exists. No smiles, no recognition. Just a blank gaze. She has never been mean, as can be the case sometimes. Such a sweet lady.
Mary is confined to bed or a wheelchair. She depends on others to feed, bathe, and dress her. She is on oxygen. She is incontinent.
I have never met Mary’s family but I know they send her cards because I see them on her wall. I also see the Easter decorations they put on her window. I don’t know how much they visit. It must be very painful for them to see their loved one in such a condition. I would not judge them.
Mary is a blessing to me. If I go there feeling down or upset, I leave feeling at peace and thankful. Her gift to me is the blessing of gratitude and a sincere heart brought about by her sweet childlike demeanor and dependence.
Yes. I’m just a volunteer, but I love this woman whom I never knew any other way. She’s like a child and I will be her advocate to make sure she is getting the care she deserves. My gift to her.
UPDATE: Mary went to be with the Lord in August 2011. In 2012 my own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease and died in November 2017. God prepares and orchestrates for His highest good.