2011-11-03 / Church


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

“You’ve Got to Stay Positive.”

Mildred was a very active, energetic lady, until cancer robbed her of mobility. She graciously accepted the move to the nursing home, determined to make the best of it.

She had her bed put near the door so she could see who was coming and going in the hall. Her smile and laugh were contagious. Before long, she knew everyone in the place by name, and would greet them as they passed by.

On her last birthday, she had a party in the dining room, complete with a birthday cake and an Elvis impersonator. When I walked in she was beaming. She showed me her prize gift, a photo signed by fake Elvis, inscribed with the words, “To Mildred. Happy Birthday. The King.”

I laughed. She winked at me. Then she leaned forward in her wheelchair and whispered. “It was ridiculous. It was terrific. You’ve got to stay positive, you know.”

Positive was Mildred’s middle name. She managed to find a way to have fun, no matter what. Even when she was in pain, she would say, “Something good’s going to come out of this.”

One day I asked her how she stayed so positive. “I don’t like the other option. It serves no purpose. It doesn’t help anyone.”

Sometimes when I’m tempted to whine or grouse about something, Mildred comes to mind. I think of her smile, her laughter, her mischievous wink, and her unwavering optimism (and, of course, that ridiculous photo).

“You’ve got to stay positive, you know.”

Yes, ma’am. Thanks Mildred.

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

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