Monday, February 4, 2013

LONGEST SHELF LIFE


I think all of us secretly wish we will be remembered and hopefully fondly by someone other than family.  I have discovered it is not always a great accomplishment or stunning talent that locks us away in someone's mind and heart. Often it is just a simple act of kindness.

Recently a favorite blogger Manzanita at Wanna buy a duck wrote about such a simple act of kindness that will lock her warmly away in a particular stranger's mind for the rest of his life.

Likewise, my account of Annie proves that small acts of kindness do not vanish with the rising sun. I still remember her and it has been many years.   

Years ago in Florida, my step-mom Liz had been in assisted living for about a month. She still wasn't thrilled with the arrangement but was adjusting.   

My sister and I  had  arrived early for a visit and planned to make a day of it. We  were having coffee and waiting for the aide to come in and give Liz her daily bath so we could start the day. 

The facility did not want to risk a slip and fall so baths had to be assisted.We offered to bathe her but she wanted to wait for the aide. We were  a bit surprised that Liz  was more comfortable with a stranger giving her something so personal as a bath. Perhaps it was preferable dignity wise than the reversal of roles when the mother become the child.  

When Annie the aide walked in, I  was not overly impressed. She was polite enough but a bit stiff with us and obviously intent on taking care of business. Liz was not her first nor her last bath to give for the day. I got the feeling that Liz was merely a routine part of her job. No more personal than cleaning a sink, which I reasoned could be a good thing.  

As Annie was not her usual aide, Liz seemed a bit disappointed but dutifully followed her into the bathroom/laundry room combination. 

It was a small apartment so we could hear what went on. 

Annie's manner as she bathed Liz was vastly different from the impression I had hastily formed. She obviously didn't want to waste any of the good stuff on us.  With Liz, she  was cheerful, funny and her conversation had us stifling giggles as we eavesdropped.  Liz didn't try to stifle hers and seemed to be enjoying the bath and Annie.   

When she asked Liz to lift her "girls" up so she could wash her belly, we lost it as  did Liz. 

Shortly however,  we heard Liz say something that caused us a bit of alarm and wiped the smiles from our faces.

"Oh my," Liz gushed. " That feels so wonderful!! No one has ever done that for me before. I just love it !!"

We  shot questioning looks at each other  and as a unit, we head for the bathroom.

There  stood Liz wrapped in a large towel as Annie patted her dry. The expression on Liz's face was purely ecstatic with face lifted and eyes closed in pure pleasure.  

Annie  was only a little  surprised at our intrusion and said with a bit of a grin. 

"Not what you think ladies. I  put her towel in the dryer to warm it up while she was bathing.  Folks with poor circulation just love the soothing comfort of  a toasty warm towel."



Sis and I  said a collective "wow". This was such a simple thing but it gave Liz such pleasure and a feeling of being pampered. This was not something that was part of Annie's job description.  I would never have thought to do it and evidently, neither had the other aides as it was a new experience for Liz.  

Her little "extra" step carried a lot of weight with us. My sister who was in charge of finances made sure Annie got a really nice Christmas bonus. 

I only hope when I toddle off to a nursing home some day, there is an Annie on the staff.  

If you are  giving care to someone you love, remember this simple luxury of a warm towel.   They will adore you for it. If you are the care getter---- drop a hint.

And remember, that simple act of  kindness you do that you think is quickly forgotten-- really has the longest shelf life. 


I  hope you will visit  Introverted Art blog spot to take advantage of a delightful gift she is offering. She is a wonderful artist and has painted a calendar page for February that you can use for your computer wallpaper. I love mine. Hopefully now I won't lose track of days as I am wont to do since retiring. Thank you Ana. 

30 comments :

DJan said...

Patti, this is a wonderful story and a perfect description of how a small act of kindness can change a person's life. What a sweet thing to do, and you told the story well.

I realized the other day that several things you have mentioned on your blog have become parts of my everyday life. You have added much pleasure to my own life already! Thank you. :-)

Manzanita said...

Patti, Thank you for saying kind words about my blog. Here's, the thing, when someone does a random act of kindness, it certainly isn't premeditated, but it's just a spontaneous impulse to be helpful. A month ago I was walking down a steep icy sidewalk to my car and carrying a large glass jug of water. My age began showing as I stopped at the top of the hill, wondering how I'd get down without falling. A young teenager approached and said, "Let me carry this to your car." And even offered his arm for my balance. I was so grateful but shocked because one rarely sees this side of teenagers. I remember that young gentleman and have related the story to many people.

Annie was an angel who wanted to make Liz's bath warm and cozy and would probably be surprised that you still remember. Truly a kind heart. And.... I always recall(as I've mentioned before) your working in a bank and making up the difference for an older woman's deposit. You used the words, "simple act"in your closing sentence. True but what a large heart.

Olga said...

This is a wonderful story--a warm towel after a bath. It is a good reminder that we can all do a simple thing and not even know the ripples it will send out.
Your story is also a good reminder that we are sometimes to quick to judge. Cheers to the Annies and Pattis of the world!

Rian said...

Acts of kindness are seldom forgotten. When I was young and pregnant a stranger was kind to me during a difficult moment and I've always remembered them in my prayers. Will have to post that story one day.
Thanks for the reminder that a simple act of kindness can make a person's day... and more.

Linda Wildenstein said...

This was such an enjoyable and spirit liftin post. How wonderful that warm towel would be. Kindness is a precious commodity best served with a smile. Oma Linda

Muffy's Marks said...

What a wonderful story. There should be more Liz's in this world. She knows how to lift the spirit of an elderly person!!!

islandwonder said...

That is a very uplifting story. Getting out of a warm water into cool air is never fun. Great solution.

Gail said...

There are angels among us.

Cheryl @ TFD said...

What a wonderful story, Patti. Annie not only was a gem to warm the towel but it sounds like she also knew just what to say to her patients while bathing them to make the very personal chore more comfortable. Very wise woman.
Love your stories, keep 'em coming! And have a great day!

Barb said...

Love this post, Patti! It made me remember my years as a Hospice volunteer - the good friends I made and all I learned about living and dying just through simple acts of kindness. Many times, it was the kindness of my clients that got me through some sad and rough times, especially when I was a "rookie." It also brought a memory of getting into the shower with my mother-in-law when she was very frail. She sat on a little stool, and we laughed til we cried about nothing really - it was very cathartic for her and for me. All people crave gentle touch - it is a great comfort.

kenju said...

Again I say, you are such a good story teller! What a nice thing to do for a person. Had I done that for mr. kenju while he was convalescing from his stroke, I might never have been able to get him to wash on his own again.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

My sweet mom was that kind of nurse. I can't tell you how much she agonized over her patients and how she loved them.

love this story!!!!

LL Cool Joe said...

Kindness is something that seems to be strangely lacking nowadays, and yet any small gesture like that can make such an impression. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Djan,
Thank you so much. I am so glad to have affected you in some manner. I know that my blog buddies have entered my life also. You have taken me on wonderful hikes and let me tag along on the sky dives I will probably never get to take myself. You inspire me to be more active. Thanks.

Manzi,
What a sweet boy. I think most kids are good like that, they just don't get the press the bad ones get.
I am always amazed that you remember long ago posts like the one about Ruth. Thank you so much.

Olga,
Thank you and yes, I was entirely too quick to judge a stranger after bare moments.
I really like your "ripple" reference for that is exactly what it is.

Rian,
I hope you do post that story. I would love to read it. Kindness can always use a spotlight.

Linda Wildenstein,
So glad you enjoyed it. You are so right about the best condiment to serve with kindness.

Muffy,
She certainly did and it didn't take a minute to throw a towel in the dryer. That and her humor really put my mom and us right with the world that day.

islandwonder,
You know, it would be a nice treat for a perfectly healthy spouse to surprise them as they step out of a tub or shower. A nice Valentines Day surprise??

Gail,
You bet. I totally agree.

Cheryl,
Thanks so much. It took a special woman to put Liz not only at ease during such a dignity stripping situation, but made her able to laugh about it.

Barb,
Hospice workers are my heroes. What an amazing group of people who make life's most difficult passage so much easier.
How wonderful that you and your mother-in-law had such fun at what could have been awkward. Kudos to you lady.

Kenju,
Thanks so much Judy. Ha, that is funny. You know it isn't too late. Bet he would love the surprise and might return the favor.

RMW,
Your mom was a very special nurse. Trust me, her actions not only affected her patients, but the ripple effect spread to their family. There are lots of people who remember her actions with warm gratitude.

LLCool Joe,
Yikes. I just hope that it is not because kindness is so rare that when we do experience it, it stands out so boldly. That would be sad.

Introverted Art said...

This was so sweet Patti!!!! Thank you and I do not mind at all :)
I want to be remembered for who I am...I find always interesting how everyone becomes a saint after they die.
I want to be remembered like this: she was a hoot, she tripped over that annoying clerk with her cane, she was moody and said the darndest things. Oh and remember too, she became the retirement home's hoochy! The nerve ;-)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

That Warm Towel sounds WONDERFUL!!!
I must remember that, as I get closer to needing this kind of care...
great story, my dear Patti....1

Retired English Teacher said...

Patti, this is a beautiful story. True, those simple acts of kindness are not really simple at all. I find it heartbreakingly beautiful to know that your step-mom had such care, such concern, and such love by so many around her. I also pray that you, and all of us, are so blessed with this kind of care when the end comes.

Arkansas Patti said...

Introverted Art,
Ha ha, who are you and what have you done with Ana? To bad I am so much older. It would be fun to watch the nursing home hoochy in action:))

OOLOH,
Thank you.
I know. If my dryer wasn't so far from my shower, I would do it now.

Retired English Teacher,
Thanks Sally,I agree. It is what we all hope for.

Betsy Adams said...

Wonderful story about Annie... Isn't it interesting how simple acts of kindness are the ones we remember all through the years???? I loved reading about Annie warming the towel for Liz to use after her bath... AWESOME....

Hugs,
Betsy

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Patti that was a a lovely memory- thank you for sharing. And also a good lesson about giving people a chance and not judging too quickly.

Dee said...

Dear Arkansas Patti, what a wonderful post. I so enjoyed the story of Annie and Liz and the warmed towel. And I like, also, the reminder that simple and little acts of kindness are like the pebble thrown into the pond. The rings go out and out and out, touching the bank from just that one act. Peace.

Inger said...

What a lovely story of a thoughtful and caring woman. I loved it, thanks for sharing.

Arkansas Patti said...

Betsy,
Age isn't the only stage that appreciates a warm towel. Hand one to George and see how he reacts. Bet he would do it for you also:))

Terri,
Thanks. Sadly prematurely judging is something that I have to work on constantly.

Dee,
You are so right. So often in life the things we do reach much farther than just who they were aimed at. Both good deeds and bad.

Inger,
Thanks so much. Some things just stay with us.

LV said...

That was rare, but a great thing that Annie did. My sister has worked in senior places and it is not always so good. There is good in most people, it just takes the right situation to bring it out. Blessings to you for this great story. It is the simple, small things in life that really count.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Simple acts of kindness last a long, long time...

Arkansas Patti said...

LV,
Thanks. It is sad that more is not done like that. It would make the job much more pleasant for the worker as well as the patient.

Optimistic Existentialist
And the best part is that it seldom takes much time or energy to be nice.

LC said...

Oh, how obvious but I never thought of this for my mother.

Thank you for sharing this insight!

Kay said...

Oh wow! Patti, you tell the BEST stories. I loved Manzanita's story too. Those simple acts of kindness are truly what gives life that wonderful glow. I hope I get an Annie someday too.

Arkansas Patti said...

Kay,
Aw thanks so much and me too.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

What an excellent idea! Gotta try that. By the way we also got one of those Hymalian lamps you mentioned and we are now including kelp into our diet. You may wish to try a bit of pomegranate juice. It aslo has some great healing powers but gotts be careful if you have a sugar issue. Pure juice though very tart is still high in natural sugar.