It was a busy morning, approximately 8:30 am, when an elderly gentleman, in his 80's, went to a clinic to have stitches removed from his thumb.
He said that he was in a hurry. The nurse took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him.
She saw him looking at his watch again and again and decided that since she was not busy with another patient, she would evaluate his wound. On exam it was well healed, so she talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his stitches and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, they began to engage in a conversation. She asked him if he had a doctor's appointment somewhere else, as he was in such a hurry.
The gentleman said no, that he needed to go to a nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.
She then inquired about her health. He said, “She has been there for a while. She is a victim of the Alzheimer’s Disease.”
As they talked, and she finished dressing his wound, she asked if his wife would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied, “She no longer knows who I am. She hasn’t recognized me in five years now.”
The nurse was surprised, and asked him, "And you are still going every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?"
He smiled, patted her hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The person who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the person who cares.