We’ve all heard the term, “random acts of kindness.” Wikipedia defines a random act of kindness as: a non-premeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.
When I think about the many acts of kindness healthcare workers deliver every day, I’m certain that they are anything but random. They are thoughtful and deliberate.
Before she died last month, my sister Elizabeth had spent 21 months bouncing between hospitals and a nursing home. That is an immense amount of time to be away from home and far from family. But during that time, she encountered nurses, aids, therapists and doctors who took the time to make a difference. Here are just a few of the acts of kindness she shared.
Elizabeth was novelist, so writing was as crucial to her well-being as nutrition. She didn’t feel whole when she couldn’t write. During one of her last transfers, she had to leave her laptop behind. Hearing this, one of the doctors went out and bought her a journal so she could continue to write during her stay. She made a special trip back to the hospital to deliver the journal and a nice pen. Elizabeth was incredibly touched by this. Random? No. Thoughtful, deliberate and generous.
Since Elizabeth was admitted to the hospital in November of 2015, she missed Thanksgiving and Christmas that year and faced the same in 2016. She loved the holidays and it broke her heart that she’d miss yet another holiday season when December 2016 rolled around. Learning that she was far from family, one of the nurses brought her a small Christmas tree and lights to decorate her room. A very deliberate, non-random act of kindness.
Then there was the physical therapist at the nursing home who brought Elizabeth a fresh avocado one day. Elizabeth happened to mention during a PT session that she was craving avocado. The conversation could have ended there as casual chit chat. But the therapist made it a priority to purchase and deliver a fresh avocado.
One of the nurses made a special point to bring her newborn to meet Elizabeth. Having cared for Elizabeth through her entire pregnancy, the two had bonded. Elizabeth was as excited about that baby as she had been about nieces and nephews being born. The visit meant the world to her.
Living in hospital gowns instead of real clothes and suffering chronic bedhead can leave anyone feeling grubby and unattractive. One nursing assistant told Elizabeth she had just the thing to help her feel better about her appearance. She came in after work and gave Elizabeth a manicure and pedicure telling her, “Now you can just look at your polished hands and feet and you’ll feel better.”
Each and every one of these examples were memorable for Elizabeth. These are people who could have settled for doing just what was in their job descriptions, but instead went above and beyond to make a difference in the life of someone else. Their acts of kindness were anything but random. They were caring, thoughtful and deliberate.