All Your Suffering Is About To Be Over!
We have a visiting doctor in from San Francisco for the week, and as we were tripping over each other in the medicine cabinet this morning, she said, “Your patients are so special.” They really are. I feel so lucky to be even a tiny part of their lives. Yesterday I saw this 84-year-old man who’s been his wife’s sole caretaker since she had a stroke about 8 months ago. He doesn’t really know how to cook, but he prepares all their food; his knees and elbows are wracked and creaky with rheumatism but still he lifts her up daily, bathes her, changes the sheets, combs her hair. He pushes her chair out on the porch on nice days and they watch the neighborhood go by. They used to be traveling people, the kind of people who’d climb in their tottering black pickup one morning and end up in St Louis for the next five months. Now they’re planted back home in Avondale and he’s starting to feel itchy and restless, but right now there’s no place he’d rather be than their bright yellow kitchen, spooning oatmeal into thick bowls for the two of them to share every morning.
Today one of my patients, an ardent 72-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who comes to visit us about twice a month for minor complaints and also because his rickety house gets lonely now that his wife’s gone, gave me a brightly colored pamphlet that said, “All Your Suffering Is About To Be Over!”
“Oh, this is so awesome!” I said. “I wish everybody’s suffering was about to be over.”
He laughed, this deep scratchy laugh you can hear all through the clinic. “Well, I don’t know,” he said. “But I walk around the whole neighborhood and give these out door to door. I sit on people’s porches and, you know. We’re all blessed. It makes me feel better.”