Brody: Going above and beyond the call of kindness

You know how you can have a memory that has laid deep inside you and then, suddenly, it surfaces when you need it?

That is what happened to me not long ago. The memory reminded me kindness sometimes requires going beyond being nice to someone or listening to someone’s worries when you don’t really feel like it.

The true story I want to share with you took place in a hospital and it required committed daily love and kindness, one man to another.

There were two elderly men who shared a hospital room. One man was there first, and as the doctor chose the best fit for the second patient, he decided they could keep each other in a positive frame of mind and not get depressed.

But the second patient was put in the bed nearest the door and he could see nothing out the one window.

All his life he was only centered and peaceful when he was connected to the outside — trees, birds, little scampering animals even people passing by.

When he asked to swap beds, putting him next to the window, the man near the window said he did not want to give up his window.

But here’s where the extra kindness kicked in.

The very ill patient whose bed gave him access to the outside world, made up his mind to give his time and his love to his new friend everyday.

Each day he laid in his bed and described everything he saw, every sound he heard, every thing he felt, like when the birds flew from one tree to another he even began to make up beautiful stories of bird families, bunnies scampering in the fall leaves, life as it played out.

When human families came to let their children play and run, he literally brought the world into that hospital room for his patient companion.

The thing is, this first patient was hanging on to life and energy just to keep his new friend alive and because of his love the second patient continued to maintain a positive outlook on the belief he would get well.

When he awoke one mroning, the second patient found his friend’s empty bed.

Stunned, he rang for a nurse who told him his friend had passed in the night.

Oh, what a terrible loss.

The second man knew of all the life going on outside the window and suddenly it was dark and empty for him.

Consequently his health, his mood, even his desire to get well declined.

Then the psychiatrist got involved and decided to move the second patient to the space by the window so he could see the park, the birds, the people, the life that went outside the window.

The patient was absolutely thrilled to be able to see it all through his own eyes and his own heart.

The day came to move his bed. Already feeling better just anticipating being reconnected to life, he trembled as the nurses came in to move him.

The man closed his eyes and kept them closed until he could reopen them and look out the window to see it all for himself.

As he lay there, eyes closed, he felt such awe that for months his friend was his eyes.

His vivid description of this momma robin searching for worms in the ground below and human mommas showing their children the joy of nature and just being a part of it all.

He also thanked God for the kindness the other man gave him as sick as he was.

He could hardly wait for that moment when he could make it his own.

That moment arrived. A nurse told him he, indeed, was positioned in his part of the room so he felt reconnected.

She kissed his forehead, smiled and quietly left the room.

Again, almost trembling in anticipation of reclaiming the world and his strong desire to get well, he made sure he was lying just right in his bed so the moment was perfect as he looked at life out the window for the first time in many months.

One, two, thre, he counted, and then open.

There before his waiting eyes and not five feet away from his own building stood another dingy wall. No trees, no birds, no people, no visible life moving, no park, only a sturdy concrete wall.

The patient could not comprehend it. For the longest time he laid there trying to figure out what he was seeing or, better yet, what he wasn’t seeing.

The lovely park, trees, flowers, animals and birds the other man created was one huge gift of kindness he gave to the other patient in the dark part of the room. It kept his spirits up and improved his hope to get well.

But there was nothing whatsoever to see but a blank, dingy wall holding up another building.

All those months one ill man was giving his creativity, his imagination, his time every day and his desire to help another human being.

I love this story. It requires love and the desire to help another person to want to get well.

This is what I call beyond kindness.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.