2011-07-07 / General Stories


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)


Sam greeted me the same way every time I walked through his door. “Hallo! So nice to see you,” he’d say, peering at me through his fatigue-ridden eyes.

Sam was originally from London, so you’ve got to put in the English accent to get the full affect (hence the “Hallo”). Picture a very tall, extremely thin man in a wheelchair, leaning slightly to one side, his mouth curved in a permanent grin. Although he said he was fine, he always looked uncomfortable. At times, he was so tired he would fall asleep in mid-sentence. He never said much, but what he said, he meant.

On particularly difficult days, I sometimes found myself dropping by to see him. I just liked hearing his voice saying those words.

“Hallo! So nice to see you.”

I once heard that the first few minutes with each person sets the tone for that relationship for that day. I know this is true in my family, and I suspect it is true in all my relationships.

If that’s the case, how important is the way I greet the people I meet today? How powerful are my first words and expressions in each interaction? Simple greetings can have a profound impact. When we meet someone who’s genuinely glad to see us, it makes a difference.

“Hallo! So nice to see you.”

Nice to see you too, Sam.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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