2011-08-18 / General Stories


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

“You Think You Know Somethin’. . .”

Neda typically sat in her daughter’s living room with the lights off and the curtains drawn. She’d see me coming and squint. You could tell she was trying to figure out who I was. She greeted me the same way each visit. “Hi. How’s your family?”

Neda’s dementia was progressing rapidly. She could no longer follow a conversation. She was limited to a few select sentences that she would repeat over and over. She also fell often.

Yet, she always seemed to be smiling. She laughed a lot. She seemed perfectly content. And some of her select sentences were packed with simple, powerful wisdom.

During one visit, she chuckled, pointed a long finger at me and said, “You know what? You’ll be goin’ along thinkin’ you know somethin’. Then you wake up and find you don’t know nothin’!”

Ouch. How true.

I think I know something, or someone, and then something happens. Life throws a curve ball, and I’m caught totally off guard. How could such a thing occur in my well-planned, nothing-but-what-Iwant is-supposed-to-happen life? If I am not careful, I could begin responding in ways I later regret.

I don’t know what today will hold. I don’t know what other people will think, say, or do. But I know that I am responsible for what I think, what I say, and what I do. Things seem to work out much better if I allow life’s surprises to humble me.

Thank you, Neda, for the lesson in humility.

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

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