I spent yesterday afternoon in a hospital room, sitting in a chair beside my grandfather. As he slept I read a book touching on Grace sent to my good friend Ronald Arceo. There was a an elder woman sleeping in a chair beside the other bed. She had no visitor’s, or so it seemed.
Then a tall husky man, about 70 walked in. He laid down his things and sat in a chair facing her in the corner of the room. He sat, watched her and smiled with so much love emanating from his face. I watched, out of the corner of my eye, intrigued by the look on his face. As I watched him, his age seemed to disappear. The lines on his face faded, the white hair became less evident. All that I could see was the love in his face, in the gaze he held upon this woman. He looked at me and smiled, “That’s my love”, he said, his face lighting up even more. “She’s been here since February 11, and I have been here every morning at 6:30 and I leave every evening at 8:00. I bring my lunch and supper” he said pointing to his navy cooler, “I get tired of the restaurant food, you know?”. “Sure” I answered, my heart melting on the inside. “Gotta take care of my love”, he continued. A nurse walked in, waking the woman, he asked her is she has to use the bathroom. The man looked at him and said, “Hey, I’m here, I’m taking care of her!, ” claiming his woman and his rightful place. It was surreal to watch. I felt like I was watching a movie and acting in it at the same time. Another male nurse walked in. This time the man got up to shake the gentlemen’s hand. “How are you kiddo?” it’s been a while. They hugged and then the nurse walked over to the woman gently stroking her hair and asking her how she was. She manage to get a minimal answer out despite the trachea in her throat. “I pretty much know everyone in here, you need anything, you let me know” he said looking at me as I chatted with grandpa, “after a while you come to know your way around, your grandpa is easy, doesn’t ask for much, doesn’t talk much, he was cold yesterday so I covered him with a blanket. Didn’t hear a peep from him the rest of the night”.
I just sat there, amazed. Thinking about how many elder people mus be sitting alone in hospital beds, sick and possibly dying, with very little attention. I was so grateful to be observing such loving kindness. I thought of how many times I’d heard yoga teachers use that term as we offered up our practices to benefit the world. This, I thought, this, is loving kindness.
As he sipped his 7UP through a straw, he pulled out a crossword book, “Gotta keep the brain engaged” he said looking at me. I immediately made a mental note to bring him more crosswords puzzled when I’d be back on Sunday. It’s the least I could do for a man like that.
“I know you’re in pain my love” he said looking at her. “You want me to rub your legs?” she nodded but signaling to him what he understood to be “but after you’re done with your soft drink”. Ignoring her, he put the can down. Rolled a small towel up and playfully threw it at her. It fell on the floor and he left it there. I wondered why. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a jar. “This stuff” he said, pointing to the jar, “is the best stuff ever invented, manages the pain for 24 hours straight”. Taking the towel, I watched this 70 year old giant get on his knees to rub his wife’s legs to soothe her pain. My heart literally welled up beyond it’s capacity. I was amazed as I watched.
I thought to myself, watching their exchange, a love like that has no age. It doesn’t get old. I just grows and grows and grows and that’s why his wrinkles and white hair faded as I watched. He wasn’t tired and tethered, he was dedicated.
Privy, once again, to be a witness to random acts of love. Or should I say Grace.