My hospice client’s wife is away for a few days so I had a longer shift. He was finishing breakfast as I sat down to review his wife’s notes and catch up with his overnight care-giver.
“Well the first thing I’m going to do is change the calendar.” I said as I patted his shoulder and headed for a chair next to him. “It’s February 1st and the weather is supposed to be lovely and warm!”
“It is February already?” He stopped, spoonful of egg half way to his mouth. “I would very much like to go out-of-doors today! Look! The chickens are all out. I would like to see my new cows.”
The only problem with going out is getting him down the stone steps by myself, in his wheelchair. He wanted a quick nap before we bundled up and started the journey. I took that time to align the ramps and kick the ice off the steps. Though the temps were in the low 40’s, there was a stiff wind racing across the fields and buffeting the front of the farm. With luck, the farm hands were just headed out for the grain store as I swung to door wide and rolled him to the top of the steps. They stopped and helped us down to the driveway with a promise to return in 20 minutes to reverse the process. His chair is old and ventures opinions to me in the form of wheels that don’t always roll in unison. I heaved and pushed through the first puddle to a spot out of the wind where we could rest and look at the cows. Two gave birth around Christmas and aside from a few quick glances from the window, I hadn’t seen them since. roly-poly and fuzzy on their stout little legs, the calves stood in the mud nursing as their mom’s contentedly chewed.
A massive puddle blocked us from venturing further so we turned and walked back down the road to the farm stand. As we wandered, he commented on the condition of the tar driveway and how that would have to be fixed before his son’s wedding in August. He picked out trees to describe – telling me their history and origin. My mind wandered to the warmer days two years ago, when we walked side-by-side in the sun, inspecting his wife’s gardens. I looked down at him bundled in his chair and leaned over to give him a hug. He reached up, took my hand, and softly said, “I’m happy you are here today.”
If we each said that to someone, once a day, every day, perhaps the world would be a gentler place.