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2013-09-19 digital edition

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2013-09-19 / Church

THEY SAID IT

Life Lessons from Hospice Patients

Thank you!

Recently I was visiting several patients at an Alzheimer’s facility. As I walked down the hall, I looked up and saw Arnie. He was pacing nervously back and forth, wringing his hands and mumbling to himself. His expression was pained. He glanced up and saw me. His eyes pleaded for help.

“Hello, Arnie,” I said softly.

He stopped pacing and stood swaying gently back and forth. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. Tears began to form in Arnie’s eyes. I noticed that he was quivering and beginning to hyperventilate.

I slowly reached out and laid my hands on Arnie’s shoulders.

Arnie closed his eyes and put his head back. His body began to relax. The quivering stopped and his breathing returned to normal. For a good minute we stood there in the middle of the hallway, my hands on his shoulders, his face turned toward the ceiling. It was as if he was soaking something in, like sunshine on a cloudy day.

Finally Arnie sighed and lowered his eyes to mine. “Thank you,” he mouthed, though no sound came. Then he shuffled on down the hall.

What had just happened? Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that touch is powerful. Perhaps Arnie, trapped inside his own body - unable to track with conversation or communicate clearly - just needed to be touched.

A gentle, loving touch can go a long, long way.

Gary Roe is a Chaplain eith Hospice Brazos Valley. Visit him on his website at www.garyroe.com

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