My stepmom is 81 years old and in a hospital as I write this post with pneumonia, but she is still teaching me how to be present with another.
When a nurse walked in the room today, my Mom asked her, “How are you today?” The nurse responded in a perfunctory way only to hear my Mom offer an honest compliment, “I love the way you fix your hair.”
A smile came across the nurse’s face, and a follow up question was asked, “Do you do it yourself?” “Oh yes,” the nurse responded, “I do.” “Remind me of your name,” my Mom says almost as quickly as the young woman can answer. “My name is Sandra,” she says. “That’s right, Sandra.”
I was there for less than an hour and the phlebotomist, nursing assistant, and dietary aide who came into the room were all greeted with unique questions and authentic affirmations.
My Mom told me about each one of them out loud as they went about their work, “This lady is in nursing school at the junior college near our home, I’m so proud of her,” she adds. Or “This fine man has a wife and three kids, all of them under five years old, can you believe that?”
She knows where they go to church (this is the deep South), how long they have worked in the hospital, and something that she loves about each one of them. Without exception.
Did I say she is 81, has pneumonia, and is in the hospital? She has been my “second Mom” for forty-two years and I am grateful she is still the consummate teacher in life. She was so good at teaching kindergarten to third graders over a many decade career in different public schools, and her ability to see the child in each person is inspiring.
My Mom refuses to see persons as robots who are only in a role. Instead she sees each person as unique who comes into the room. And she will not allow others to put her in the role of a patient only. She shares about her life as a teacher or pastor’s wife.
I wonder how many people I see everyday in a perfunctory manner. What about you?
Do you see the cashier at the convenience store as a money exchanger only? What about the waitress in the restaurant, the sales person in the store? The dentist or the parking attendant? What about people with whom you work?
I know one thing, I want to be more like my Mom who sees everyone as somebody’s son or daughter.
God bless Jimmie Ruth.
And God help me to see everyone I meet as the unique child of God that they are.
P.S. And by the way, my Mom is improving daily, thank you.