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Thanks For A Reader’s Kindness

In Local News, Media, Uncategorized on December 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm


By Gery L. Deer

According to the dictionary, kindness is defined as the quality of being warm-hearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic; the tendency to be kind and forgiving; or a kind act. We tend to see more examples of kindness during the Christmas holiday season, but one recent event came without prompting and I am reasonably certain it would have happened any day of the year.

A few weeks ago I was in the office of my mother’s cardiologist just after her routine checkup. As an Alzheimer’s patient, my mom has to have someone to communicate issues to the doctors, report on her condition and relay any problems so the proper care can be administered.

Fortunately, she has been doing well lately and the cardiologist was pleased with her stable condition. As we were preparing to leave, my father and I were trying to help her back into her coat, a task that is challenging enough when she is cooperating but nearly impossible when she decides she doesn’t want to help.

The long, puffy winter coat just wouldn’t go over her arms the way it was supposed to and she insisted on keeping her elbow bent and tightly tucked between the arm of her narrow wheelchair and her side. With her particular brand of dementia, all you can do is wait her out and distract her until she gives in and allows you to put the coat on.

Unlike working with an obstinate child, mom has lost her sense of reasoning so applying logic or some kind of reward system is useless. You just have to be patient. Even so, she was having nothing to do with the right arm of her coat that day.

Just then a woman walked up and asked if we needed help. Her kind, grandmotherly eyes and concerned look told me that dad and I must have looked thoroughly out of our element in dealing with the situation.

Anyone who sees me with my mom can tell you I’m somewhat overprotective. The Alzheimer’s has left her easily startled and mistrusting but she seemed to respond to the woman who bent down to talk to her as she spoke.

“Your problem is you have men doing a woman’s job here,” she said, smiling. Mom grinned back as if she got the joke. I couldn’t have agreed more at that point. As I kept mom distracted the woman managed to work the coat over the bent elbow.

As we finished getting mom bundled for the ride out to the car, the woman said, “Aren’t you the one who writes the column in the paper?” I replied that I do and she told me her name was Louise and that she reads my column in the Xenia Daily Gazette. She apparently heard my name when the nurse called us back for mom’s appointment.

Louise didn’t offer to help because she recognized me; in fact I couldn’t have looked more inept at the moment. She did it to help my mother in a totally selfless act of kindness. To some, helping an old lady in a wheelchair on with her coat on might seem a small gesture. But to me, it is a great statement of the inherent good nature of people.

We live in a coldly cynical world and to have someone step forward to offer help in such a way is more appreciated than most people can understand unless they have been in the situation. We don’t appreciate how easily we do things like put on a coat until we can no longer do them for ourselves. Louise didn’t just help keep my mother warm that day; she also helped to preserve her dignity.

So, I wanted to take this time to offer, from my father and me, the sincerest of thanks to Louise Young of Xenia and to let her know, for what it’s worth, “My mom would have liked you.” And, from my family to yours, and to all Deer In Headlines readers, please have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.



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