The most precious things in life are done by hand. We have marvelous washing machines for clothes and for dishes, but they have never made a machine to bathe a baby. Babies are bathed by hand.
Someone wrote these words:
“I almost weep when looking back
To childhood’s distant day.
I think how those hands rested not
When mine were at their play.
I’ve looked on hands whose form and hue
A sculptor’s dream might be.
Yet are these aged, wrinkled hands,
More beautiful to me.”
The author was writing about the hands of his own dear mother, and many of us can certainly understand those words.
When we feel that we do not have the opportunities somebody else has, let us remember that we have two hands, and that we have the opportunity to do the most precious and the most important things in the world.
At hospice, the care providers most appreciated are our certified nurse assistants. Why? Because with their hands they physically touch and bathe each patient.
We also have a group of dedicated volunteers who make handmade items for our patients. One lady makes handmade booties to keep patients’ feet warm. Another woman creates handmade lap robes to provide warmth for patients. And a whole group of volunteers provides hundreds of turbans and scarves for patients who have lost their hair through chemo treatments or who need comfort for the winter months.
It’s not enough merely to exist. It’s not enough to say, “I’m earning enough to live and support my family. I do my work well. I’m a good person. I go to church.”
That’s all very well. But you must do something more. Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Everyone has to try to make themselves more noble and to realize their own true worth.
You must give some time to others. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for those in need, something for which you get no pay but enjoy the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Of all sad things we tell ourselves, the saddest is, “I didn’t make the most of the occasion.” We go to say goodbye; an old friend comes to see us; somebody does us a kindness; we have an argument; we meet a new acquaintance; and somehow we don’t do justice to the moment.
We can be completely present. We can be all there. We can control the tendency of our minds to wander from the situation we are in toward yesterday, toward tomorrow, toward something we have forgotten, toward some other place we are going next. It is hard to do this, but it is harder to understand afterward where it was we fell so short. It was where and when we ceased to give our entire attention to the person. It’s what I call that extra personal touch.
Those who have fewest regrets are those who take each moment as it comes for all that it is worth. It will never come again, for better or worse. It is ours alone, we can make it what we will.