I had the loveliest little elderly Chinese woman as one of my patients today. She didn’t speak a word of English, and my Chinese isn’t any where near up to snuff to be able to even remotely make out one word. Although we couldn’t “communicate” with each other, this lady left a lasting impression on me. And apparently, she left this same impression on the majority of other staff who visited her throughout the day. Her dialysis nurse spent extra time in the room, just because she wanted to help her more. She shared with me that she enjoyed the relationship they had formed over the past few days, that they were able to create their own language to understand one another. Even though there were no words spoken, there was something special shared between them.
A similar story came from the porter who helped transfer her back to the room after a test, probably only spending about 10 minutes with her in total. He also stayed longer to help more than usual. I asked if he wouldn’t mind helping me boost her up the bed, and he said with a gentle smile, “well, I’m not supposed to… but for this little lady? No problem. She reminds me of my grandmother”. This guy? The farthest possible from speaking Chinese. But. This little lady touched something inside of his heart. Just by showing kindness and light-heartendness with her presence.
With all of these people, including myself, she was able to make a lasting impression. How? I don’t really know. But she was kind with her actions. She was grateful. She was gentle. It’s as if she was able to speak with her soul. You could tell she was trying to communicate that she was appreciative. There was something about her that just made you feel good, that made your heart smile. She just made you feel good.
Meaning is not necessarily in our words. It’s not necessarily in our actions either. When it comes down to it, we really only remember the way a person makes us feel – that’s what really counts. When this little lady grabbed my hand with both of hers at the end of my shift, squeezed them tightly, and wore a beautiful toothless smile, grinning from ear to ear? If that doesn’t say thank you, I don’t know what does.
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” – Thomas L. Garthwaite
Smile with your heart!