In my thirty-seven year long nursing career I cared for many patients and have been touched by the lives of many patients. One lady who still has a place in my heart was a cancer patient, Ms. Jones.
The first time I met her. I was so impressed with her indomitable spirit, her sense of humor, and her amazing attitude about her cancer and the chemotherapy she had been receiving. She had lost all of her hair. She even joked about her baldness, which, she said, made her look like a mouse; she even called herself “Mouse.” (I, of course, called her by her name, Ms. Jones.)
Ms. Jones had had her chemo and loved to take an evening stroll down the hall. This time she was on a mission to find another framed print in an empty room to exchange with the picture in her room. She had been staring at that picture in her room long enough to want a change of scenery. To protect her from falling because she might get weak, I walked along beside her. She examined the name tags on the outside of each room looking for an empty room. We found an empty room and made the exchange.
The next night we sauntered further down the hall until she spied an old friend in the VIP room. Mr. Smith belonged to the same garden club she did. The VIP rooms were designed for the comfort of our chemo patients, dying patients and their families.
These rooms were designed to accommodate the patient’s family, who often stayed with them. Each room had a sleeper sofa, a small refrigerator; and room for family to visit.
After talking with Mr. Smith a few minutes Ms. Jones commented on the lovely two pictures on his wall. One was of a beautiful flower. Then I returned her to her room for the night.
The next evening she decided to walk the opposite direction and who should she see but another member of her garden club, Ms. Davis, in the first room of the hall. Being a very social person, she went in to visit her friend.
Ms. Davis had had a stroke, and although she couldn’t talk, she gave eye contact to Ms. Jones, acknowledging her presence. After a brief visit, Ms. Jones looked at the walls of Ms. Davis’s room and was perturbed that there was no picture hanging on her wall.
But Ms. Jones knew just what to do. She went down the hall to Mr. Smith’s room and told him about Ms. Davis’s bare walls. She asked him if she could take one of the two pictures of beautiful flowers to Ms. Davis’s room after explaining the situation to him. Mr. Smith readily agreed, who could say no to this woman??
So I carried the picture for her and we arrived at Ms Davis’s room, only to find there was no hook on the wall to hang a picture. So we set the picture on a chair in the corner so Ms. Davis could see it. When I said good-bye the next morning, Ms. Jones admonished me to be sure to have the maintenance department come and hang that picture for Ms. Davis! So the next evening, the picture had been hung and Ms. Jones was pleased. Ms. Davis soon passed away in that room and Ms. Jones soon went home after her round of chemotherapy.
A month or two later I was making my rounds and who should I see in Ms. Davis’s old room, but Ms. Jones. She had been admitted again but not for chemotherapy this time. She had developed complications from her cancer, in spite of treatments and was on oxygen and in and out of consciousness. As I turned away I noticed on the wall was the picture of the beautiful flower we had gotten for Ms. Davis the month before.
Ms. Jones passed soon after in that very room, in view of the picture of the beautiful
flower. In writing this, it occurred to me that Ms. Davis was probably one of the very people to escort Ms. Jones into heaven, thanking her for her kindness. I also found it ironic that the kindness she did for someone else, was later returned to her in kind.