An age-old kindness with Jenn Gibson

Guest Post by Jenn Gibson for the Kind Kindred series.

An age-old kindness

My grandmother was in the hospital recently, she was really sick and almost died. My mom called me while I was still living in Virginia, an hour-plus away from where they all were, and told me that Helen had been taken by ambulance to the emergency room.

Everything inside of me froze — she’s almost 90, you see, and I’d been expecting a call like this for a while. It doesn’t prepare you, though, the mental worse-case scenario prep work — if A then B.

She called me and told me all of the things that had been happening the past several days, things I’d had no idea about, but that filled in the blanks.

I’d seen Helen the weekend before I got the phone call — she looked frail, sick, tired. Now I knew why.

I told my mom that I’d see her in an hour, I just needed to throw some things in a bag, I’d be right there. She asked that I stay where I was, other family members were there and with everything else, it was overwhelming Helen.

I agreed, reluctantly.
I worried, relentlessly.

One of my roommates stayed with me, kept me company, listening to me while I said the same things over and over, holding my hand through the anxiety and fear.

I stayed at the house for a while and left early in the morning to be with my family.

I’m not going to lie to you. I was so scared to go to the hospital. I hate them, they trigger my anxiety so completely. This hospital in particular: it’s where I took my dad for chemotherapy.

So with all of this baggage, I walked in there, ready to fight, ready to take on and do whatever needed done. Ready to slay some dragons. Ready to run, ready to cry.

Memories and fear layered on each other: having my mom walk in with me the next morning steadied me some, seeing Helen alert steadied me more.

It threw me seeing so many members of my family in the room. Visiting, talking, engaging Helen in conversation, drawing her attention away from being sick to small stories of her great-grandchildren, dissecting a storyline on her favorite soap, emphasizing every positive thing a nurse or doctor said.

Fighting for her, caring for her.
I wasn’t alone.

The doctors talked about cancer, long-term care, DNRs; there were MRIs, X-rays, CAT scans; every time a doctor came in the room, her eyes showed fear. Even after they told her there were no tumors. Even after they told her that the treatment was working, that progress had been made.

The nurses that came in listened to what Helen said, even when, as she started to get better, her words and tone were cranky. They doted on her, took care of her, held her hands, touched her forehead.

They cared, and their caring, their kindness to an old woman softened me.
It brought me to tears.
It reversed my poor attitude and made me feel safe.

Now imagine what it gave to her.

Jenn Gibson believes in dreaming big: she’s the creator of Roots of She. She loves yoga and the beach, is a photographer & writer, and isn’t above stealing snuggles from Bean the Boy Kitten. She’s deep in creating her first e-course Self-love Warriors: A four-week revolution in fierce self-love and care, which launches Aug. 22. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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