In my thirty-seven year long nursing career I cared for many patients, many of whom touched my heart in different ways. One lady who still has a place in my heart was a cancer patient, Ms. Jones.
The first time I met her I was 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.)
One evening after finishing her chemotherapy Ms. Jones wanted to take her customary evening constitutional down the chemotherapy hall. To protect her from falling since she might become weak after her chemotherapy, I walked along beside her.
This particular evening she was on a mission to find another framed print in an empty room to replace the picture in her room. She had stared at that picture in her room long enough and wanted a change of scenery. She examined the name tags on the outside of each room looking for an empty room. This was back in the 80’s when name tags were outside of each room, unless privacy was requested. 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 right over the head of his bed. Then I returned her to her room for the night.
The next evening she decided to walk the opposite direction up the hall. Oddly 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 led me back 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 the picture of the beautiful flower on the wall, which we had obtained for Ms. Davis months 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.