Last summer I witnessed a select group of people in action, doing what they do and doing it well. 

I speak of those who work in the hospitals, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes all around us; doctors, nurses, assistants, hospice workers and other caregivers who tend to folks in their last days. 

My wife’s mother passed away last June in Tennessee, and we watched in quiet admiration how these folks cared for Mrs. Dover in those waning days.  They were personable, kind and always spoke to her by name and treated her with dignity and respect. I’m not sure that registered with Mrs. Dover at the time, but it meant the world to us at such a vulnerable time in our lives. 

We sensed empathy, sympathy and genuine compassion from these professionals, and believed they must feel “called” to be in this specialized field of healthcare.  I mean, from what I’d guess, one doesn’t just “go into hospice” for the money or the job per se. 

There were tasks/duties they do daily for their numerous patients that made me think “how do they do that?” You know of what I speak: The gathering and washing of soiled linens, the deep cleaning and sanitizing of floors and wheelchairs, the regular bathing of those who can no longer wash themselves and so much more.  

Of course the answer is: they do have a “calling” or “gift” as some may say. Little would they realize that the caring eyes are seen, the soft voice is heard, the warm touch is felt, and the sweet spirit is received not only by the patient, but by anyone else who happened to be in the room.

Some 23 years ago I first became aware of hospice workers and what they do as they tended to my own dying mom. I feel certain that it was their tender hearts and prayers with her that softened my dad’s heart to be open to spiritual things again. I’m so grateful for that.  

The week of June 4, 2017 wife Carolyn and I witnessed genuine compassion from Wanda, the young dietician who worked at the Tennessee hospital where Mrs. Dover lay.  Wanda’s the one who served Mrs. Dover her last meals. Though she’d never met any of us before that week, she always treated Mrs. Dover with grace and dignity. 

She cared and we knew it. We saw the sympathetic, undeniable concern and strength from physicians/specialists who had the courage to tell us the truth and help prepare us for what was coming. We experienced  the real love of a chaplain who prayed with us (through his own tears and Nigerian accent) for the comfort we’d be needing soon.

We witnessed our close friend Teresa, on her own,  kneel down and sing “Amazing Grace” into the ear of a semi-comatose Mrs. Dover. Though we’re not sure she could hear it, we certainly could.  And with tears in every eye in the room, we felt our Father in Heaven was also listening, and was pleased. It takes a gift to do these things. 

So, to those of you who work in healthcare field (including the unsung workers behind the scenes --- from the lab techs to x-ray technicians and far beyond), we want to express our sincere appreciation.

Thank you for the countless acts of compassion given so freely. We salute you and thank you for answering the call.

Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at chn345@usa.com.