My mom has been in the hospital for five weeks, and I’m realizing just how much I have come to rely on the kindness of strangers. When my family is not with her I wondering if the hospital staff has attended to her needs and treated her with kindness?
Early in my mom’s hospital stay, she said hospitals just are not the same these days.
As we sat one day, I witnessed an exchange in the hallway: a patient shuffled to the nurses’ station to use the phone to call her son. When her call was complete, she told the nurse she was very dizzy and unstable on her feet, and was nervous walking. The nurse said she should be careful when she walked back to her room. I listened as this frail woman slowly shuffled back to her room and the nurse continued her conversation with her co-worker.
I turned to my mom and said that I’m not so sure it’s the hospitals that are different, it’s the people. They are less kind, less concerned, less caring. I guess I figured that if the nurse knew this woman was dizzy, the kind thing to do would be assist her back to her room, if not out of kindness, out of liability alone.
I wondered if kindness is a characteristic that is innate, whether you can teach your kids to be kind,or if it one of those things they learn by example? I think it’s a little bit of all of the above.
In one of mom’s rooms, a woman across from her had been there for three days. Mom asked if the next day I could bring her some fruit.
Sure I could, I told her, and then I asked why.
"Because she hasn’t had any visitors, maybe she wants something" she said.
That is kindness. I grew up with a giving and kind mom.
Don’t get me wrong, mom has had many, very kind, considerate and patient people caring for her needs. They have a difficult job and, as I see them every day, I can tell by the worn looks on some of their faces that Friday is approaching.
When I see that they are short-fused, weary, a little less patient, I offer them my kindness, in the form of a smile, an extra thank you, helping them do a task when I am capable and it’s appropriate.
I do believe that kindness is appreciated and that it is contagious!
Tannis Ross is a community correspondent for St. Vital.