I took this picture at the 2010 Labor Day Conference. I had taken the red-eye from Portland to DC so I could have a long talk with Mom and Dad about going to visit Africa. We then drove to the conference. As soon as I was alone with either sibling, they were like, So…what happened? <inquiring minds want to know>
“Hate” is a strong word. It is actually on the list of words my sister’s family does not use (incl. “ugly” and “fat”) since the idea is that whatever you’re saying should not require the use of a word like that, ever. Well, I’m using it in the modern vernacular, e.g., “Don’t be a hater.”
We had a mini family reunion at the GWH Labor Day Conference 2012 and we were very pleased to see each other and the kids were especially happy to be together. One day at lunch I was sitting next to my sister and I was like, Ai Ai, why is it that [a couple of our old friends] actually look younger and fitter than when we met them like 15+ years ago? “I’m not hating,” I added quickly. “Oh, no,” Ai Ai confirmed that she hadn’t thought I was doing such a thing, “You’re just observing.” Mmm hmm. Younger. And fitter. And I think they’ve had kids (plural) in the interim.
Sigh. I do not look younger or fitter. But the twinge of regret I feel is not the sort of caustic envy that would suck the life out of me. It’s the same longing I feel for the kind of life that isn’t mine right now. Although I am imperfectly happy for others at this point, I do try to be an encourager as I can. One of my favorite examples of this is something that happened at the end of my inpatient career.
There are certain stories I liked to tell people when I first got home, and many of these stories have made it into my “Memoirs” and I don’t mention them here. I know what you’re thinking – she has more to say? I know – it surprises me too. Anyway, this story is NOT one of my standard tales. I don’t talk about it because every time I think about it I still cry, but I’m trying to toughen up so I’m going to write about it now.
At RIO (3rd Hospital) they had something called “gym rounds” – it’s when you’d go to PT and your doctor would come observe for a few minutes to see how you were doing. I was ready to be discharged in a few days, so my entire team gathered for my final “gym rounds” to look at how I was moving and make sure they all agreed I was ready to fly home. I was sitting in the waiting area with C (OT3)*, waiting for my turn. She took the opportunity to clean my glasses for me since we had a couple of minutes. The talk turned to goals.
I told her I wanted to be able to stand at the sink and wash my face. I thought the ability to do this would mean less work for Mommy since I never used a washcloth in my old life, and needed Mommy’s help to wash my face now, or at least I produced a lot of laundry with my new washcloth technique. I also told C that I wanted to walk.
At that point, a man came out of the small gym. He was walking with his red rollator and proving he was fit to go home. I recognized his face from my time in the waiting area over the previous month and had heard he was getting ready to be discharged. He was walking really well, and I gestured to him, telling C, “Look at that guy – he’s cruising.” And then I addressed him directly: “Way to go, buddy.”
After a minute, he passed by close enough for me to tell him, “Have fun at home.” I didn’t think he heard me, but I was mistaken. He locked his walker (which you’re always supposed to do if you stop moving, FYI) and came over to give me a hug. “I’m going to miss you,” he said. That was the one and only time I cried openly in front of my team. S (ST2) brought me a tissue.
I cried because I didn’t/don’t even know his name. But he was nice to me, and I really needed some kindness right then. He was uniformly nice throughout my stay at RIO – so nice that I thought his pleasant demeanor was evidence of the non-reality of the entire scenario since No one’s that nice. Well, he was, and I’m glad I got a little word of encouragement in before he gave me one of the best memories I’ll ever have.
*Note: As part of my effort to toughen up, I’m taking a break from the numbering system. For the record, we’re around 46 or 47, but I can’t quite remember, which is another good reason to take a break.