hospital stories

November 2-3, midnight, 2021, Jerusalem, Israel

Sometimes it is difficult to put things in perspective, sometimes it is difficult to do the right thing. When we get the correct perspective, then the right actions follow. Correct Actions follow Correct Attitude and Perspective. The problem with people not taking up self-defense training is they lack the correct perspective. To avoid the "trouble" of taking up training they chose to ignore the obvious; crime, hate, violence, terrorism. Ignore the problem;  no need for a solution.

There is an old song, "He Aint Heavy, he's my Brother", a rabbi pointed out this song to me and explained; when it is your brother you can carry him without feeing a sense of heaviness, or burden, the burden is gone.

Yesterday morning I felt this. My mother has been in the hospital these past few days, in a difficult situation. I have been with her all day and most nights. Some may consider this a burden, but I do not. I know the score and as it is written, "For I know that you will bring me to death, to the place appointed for all living." (Job, Chapter 30, verse 23)  

( איוב ל. כג)   "כִּי-יָדַעְתִּי, מָוֶת תְּשִׁיבֵנִי וּבֵית מוֹעֵד לְכָל-חָי."  

We all have our appointed time. And yet I was given a little reminder when I stopped off at the mall to pick up some things for her. I saw a young mother, she was pushing a baby carriage and another two little girls were walking beside her and holding on to her skirt. This is a mother; the little girls holding on to her skirt as if for dear life, their mother is their anchor, their support. Their mother is their protection from a huge and overwhelming and scary world. And their mother's entire life is devoted to her children. This is a mother. 

Can a mother ever be repaid?

Next to my mother lies a woman, she cannot speak, she cannot here. She is an Arab Muslim. She is never alone. Round the clock someone is with her, one of her children, or grandchildren. In the evening there are between 10 and 15 family members. They will pray by her bed. We have become friends, they call me "brother". We chat. And they say to me, we can never repay our mother for what she has done for us. All we do is just a drop in the bucket compared to what she has done for us. 

They are a muscular group of men but when it comes to their mother they are soft and humble. A strong man honors his mother. She cannot speak or hear, but they never leave her alone. This is what you do for a mother. 

Suddenly we all have all the time in the world, because we know the score; Perspective, understand life. 

The hospital is a beautiful place, we are all in this together, we all feel the pain and their is a closeness. The lady who delivers the lunch and the man who delivers dinner, so kind; can I get you anything else? God bless you. Just gentleness, kindness and patience. 

Why can't we be this way all the time? Because we lack perspective. Why do we hurt each other? Because we lack perspective. 

I have a little trick I use on myself when driving. If someone drives in a way that disturbs me, if I get the urge to rebuke them or honk at them, I simply imagine that it is someone I know. I imagine what if I stop the car and stormed towards them and they discovered that it was someone I knew, would I yell? of course not, I would be embarrassed to behave this way. So I always imagine that it is someone I know, and then I think more compassionately. Perspective. 

Hospitals give us perspective. In our hospital there are Arab patients, Arab doctors, nurses, caregivers, cleaners and orderlies. Jewish women and Muslim women with their differing headcovers work side by side, as sisters. There is no war, there is no hate. If only the rest of the world were like our hospital. 

I have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the past few years; Ultra Orthodox Jews in Polish outfits from the 15th century, modern secular Jews with earrings and tattoos, Christians, Muslims, all together in perfect harmony, perspective. One woman heard my mother say she was thirsty, she ran over with a cup of juice, I thanked her. She said, "We are all in this together", 

Indeed this is true, we are all in this together, Perspective. We should live all our lives this way, not only in the hospital. If we have the correct perspective, we will have the correct actions. 

And one more story I must share...

Just two days before my mother was rushed to the Emergency Room I ordered for her a new TV set, so she can enjoy watching the news while lying in bed. While in the hospital I received a call from the supplier, clearly trying to set up a time for delivery and installation. He began by saying, Hello, How are you?

But me being me I avoided the standard, "Fine, thanks", and instead I say, "I am not doing well at all, I am in the hospital with my mother, and she is in a bad state, I know you calling about the Television set, it is for her. I don't know when she will return home."

And then the conversation took an unexpected turn. 

I thought he would ask if a neighbor could let in the delivery man, or if I could arrange for someone to be home, but this was not the case. This is what he said next'

"First, let me wish your mother a full and speedy recovery. Now listen, do not worry about the TV. My name is Rami, we will hold the TV for you for as long as you need. When your mother comes home, soon God willing, you call me. I will send her a better TV, the best we have, there will be no extra cost. It will be delivered at your convenience. Now please let me know your mothers' name so I can pray for her. I will ask all my colleagues in our department to pray for her as well. We are first of all human beings. You focus on your mother getting well, leave the rest to me."

I was stunned and thanked him profusely. I blessed him. This is a human being. This is a man with perspective. 

Hospitals; a sad place, a place of sickness and death, but also a place of beauty, human beauty, radiating souls and unbounded kindness. Perspective; we should live our lives as if we are always in this caring environment. These are hospital lessons. Be kind, be patient, everyone has pain. As the TV man said, first of all we are all human beings. Let us remember this lesson.