Sunday, October 10, 2010

"I realized I didn't know anything"

About 4am this morning, my 'problem' patient walked out of his room. He came up to the nursing station and just started chatting with me. This was not a norm for him. He had been pretty uncooperative and not very friendly, but something changed this morning and he decided he wanted to talk. So we talked. He explained his history of medical problems and how he has let his health get so bad. He said after his wife died earlier this year it just went down hill from there. "This fall we would have been celebrating 47 years of marriage" he said. He looked so sad when he said that, so trying to lighten the mood a bit i asked "so what was the secret to a 47 year marriage?"

He said, "she had me covered." I didn't really understand what that meant and i'm sure my puzzled facial expression gave me away, so he went on to explain. He started by telling he me that he would ask her to do something and she would just smile and say "yes dear" and he said as soon as he turned his back she was doing whatever she wanted. As he told me this, he started to laugh. He went on to tell me that she woke up everyday at 5:00am, made his breakfast, set out his clothes, made his lunch, had a thermos of hot coffee ready for him when he was leaving for work, and walked him out to his car to say goodbye. She did this everyday...what a saint! He started to laugh again and said, "after about 35 years of her doing this, i started to wonder why she did that for me everyday. Was it because she just loved me that much or was she just making sure i was really going off to work everyday? Well, whatever it was, i sure did appreciate it. She was amazing." This made me smile. He was this big gruff man, who still wore his wedding band, and in front of my eyes he turned into a big softy, and only thoughts of the love of his life could do that.

He talked about how in the last 6 months of her life she was in the hospital for almost 6 months straight, and he was there everyday. "It was hard" he said because his health was also not the best at the time and it was hard to see her suffer, "but i couldn't not be there for her." Because his health was deteriorating so quickly since her death, I tried to encourage him to start living a healthier life and eating better, and try to impress his wife while she's looking down on his with his new found cooking skills. He said he would give it a shot.

He looked up at me at the end of our conversation and said, "the day she died was the saddest day of my life, but not just for the obvious reason. After she died, I realized I didn't know anything. I had never written a check, paid a bill, gone grocery shopping or to the bank. I really didn't know anything and I realized that she did everything. I would never be able to tell her how thankful I was for everything she did for me and for us. I gained so much more respect for her after she was gone and wish I could have just told her."
Im sure she knew.

I don't know what bit of advice I can offer from this. It was just a great story and I wanted to share it. Maybe what you can take from it is to step back and look at everything the people in your life do for you without expecting a thank you or anything else in return. Recognize it, thank them anyway, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Good luck in love.

If you have asked the question recently, "so what's the secret?" Please feel free to share.

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