“Go Ahead, Make My Day”

Trish cleaned our room around 4:30 p.m. each afternoon. The first couple of times, she was pleasant, said hello and went about her cleaning, not a lot of conversation. Very meticulous, you could tell she takes pride in cleaning the room, bathroom and disinfecting all surfaces. After all, a sanitized environment is critical to the patient’s health and recovery. She spent about 15-20 minutes and then left to take care of the next room.

After a few days, John struck up a conversation with Trish. One of the many qualities that appealed to me was John’s desire to know a person, no matter what their responsibility may be. She takes her responsibility seriously but is a lovely, caring lady. Trish’s husband adores her, much like John adores me! She likes to do yoga on her days off to recharge and meditate. She takes an annual gambling trip with the girls which just so happened during his second week. If it was up to Trish, she’d have all of the floors stripped and waxed! Another example of her high expectation for cleanliness, patient comfort and satisfaction.

Within a couple of weeks as John’s hair thinned, she mentioned how he resembled Clint Eastwood especially when he furrows his brow, looking very serious. She’d say “make my day”, which would make John smile. Such a simple thing, but so delightful – something he anticipated to brighten his day. Needless to say, John’s nickname on the floor became “Clint”!  Each evening before she left, she would blow a kiss and say she would pray for us.

Over the next five months, John would leave and return three times. On each arrival, Trish was one of the first people we saw when we walked onto the 4th floor. Despite the circumstances, it was comforting to see her smile and hear her say, “there’s my cutie-pies”!

So, back again for a third and last time. Trish was the first person we saw as we walked onto the 4th floor. Her face lit up when she saw “Clint” and let us know she had cleaned the room prior to his check-in. Before clocking out, she made a point to say good night, and she would pray for us.

Tuesday, I stepped out of John’s room for a phone call to discuss the next step in his journey to healing. The reality of this finale is overwhelming, stirring up suppressed emotions while producing new ones. I took refuge in the handicap stall in the public restroom. I hadn’t been there more than a couple of minutes when I heard Trish call out, “Mrs. Boxx, are you in here?” I had lost track of time, and John’s procedure was just minutes away. Trish made sure to find me before he was transported away.

I can count the number of hours we’ve known Trish, but she’s as dear as my friends I’ve known for 30+ years. Trish didn’t have to befriend us.  Trish didn’t have to pray for us. Trish didn’t have to come find me because she had her own job to complete. Trish didn’t have to hug me to comfort me. Trish didn’t have to help wipe away my tears as her own eyes welled up. But in the famous words of Dirty Harry, “go ahead, make my day” is what Trish does daily.

Bea Positive and take time to make someone’s day!

My Name Is Juanita

In hospital waiting rooms, you do just that – wait. It can feel like an eternity. When a loved one is in ICU, you don’t want to leave for fear something might happen. God forbid something really dire happens, and you’re not there. You know that your body needs rest, but you can’t take a chance of missing a doctor or nurse who might have an updated status.

Lourdes never left the hospital while her husband was in ICU. In one corner of the ICU waiting room, she had taken up “residence” so that she could be close to her husband. There were several Publix shopping bags full of food, bottled water, travel bag and lots of coffee cups. A pillow and blanket was folded neatly on one of the sofas when she wasn’t using them.

Every evening a large group of family and friends came by. Kids under 12 aren’t allowed to visit patients, so the two that came romped around the waiting room while the adults took turns visiting their father/brother/friend. Cartoon Network blared on TV with no one really watching. For several hours, the waiting room was pretty chaotic, Fresh clothing, hot meals and more coffee were brought in for Lourdes. More importantly, love and support surrounded her.

One morning, it was fairly quiet and Lourdes had one visitor. They sat in the corner quietly, speaking Spanish to each other. On the other end of the waiting room in a corner, was another lady. She sat alone and every now and then looked at her phone and typed a few messages. In the chair next to her, she had a box of hospital-grade tissues, definitely not the soft branded-kind! She received a phone call.  As she talked on the phone, she wiped away tears with the tissues and piled up the used ones next to the tissue box.

After a few moments, Lourdes’s friend walked across the room to this lone lady. She spoke softly and placed her hand on the lady’s arm and said, “I saw you sitting alone, and saw you crying while on the phone. I don’t know you or your situation, but I know you are hurting. My name is Juanita, and sometimes people just need a hug. I just came over to give you a hug.”

I never saw Juanita again, but she made a lasting impression on me. Now, when I see someone alone, and especially obviously hurting, I just speak a few words. Sometimes it seems appropriate to touch them softly on the arm or give them a squeeze to one of their hands. The power of human touch and a few kind words don’t seem like much, do they, until you’re the one who needs it.

All I remember is her saying to me, “my name is Juanita, and I came to give you a hug.”  It was just what I needed that morning.

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