Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Help Thy Neighbor

 (from a student in my online 2020 class summer 2015)

Help thy Neighbor

Part 1 I had been struggling on what I could possibly do for this mission assignment, until one day recently, my mother informed me that our neighbor, who also was my 8th grade science teacher six years ago, had to have major surgery for a hip replacement. Since she lived by herself and owned a very big dog, I figured this would be a great opportunity to not only help out Ms Jannazo with an act of kindness and compassion, but would also be a great mission for my class project.
After Ms Jannazo had her surgery she had to stay in the hospital a few days and then they sent her to a rehab facility where she had to learn to use her “new” hip to stand and walk again. I visited her a few times at the rehab facility and asked Ms Jannazo how I could help out. She asked me if I could stop by her house and feed and walk her dog Bella which I was happy to do. Now to better understand how hard it was for Ms Jannazo to be in a hospital bed for 2 weeks let me provide a little background information about her prior to having surgery. From knowing Ms Jannazo as I said previously from the 8th grade, she was the type of person who would love to talk all the time and was always on the go. And when I say “on the go” I mean, she would either be training for some running event or riding bikes and sometimes swam pool laps. When she was not training for some sporting event, she was usually shopping or at the movies or socializing with someone somewhere. So I knew being laid up in that hospital bed would be hard for her and drive her crazy. So I figured instead of just feeding and walking her dog which would have been the easier mission to do, it would also be nice if I went to visit her in the hospital and help her pass the time. From the looks of that hospital, there was not a whole lot of stuff to keep a normal person occupied let alone a “high tempo” person like Ms Jannazo busy. The first time I visited, I brought a deck of cards and we would play and talk and she said it helped take her mind off the pain of her hip. She taught me how to play a new card game, called “gin rummy” which she defeated me in many games. We even played “heads up” on the Ipad and we would laugh so hard it made her have to get up and use the bathroom, which was a good thing because the doctor said she should try and get up and walk as much as she could stand the pain. When it was time for me to go, I could tell she was kind of sad because then all she had was her TV. As I walked down the hallways I would look into all the other patient rooms and noticed many of them were alone just laying in their beds with no one there to talk to them. I would feel sad that so many elderly people had no one to visit them.
Part 2 As I walked out of that rehab hospital I felt really good that I could make Ms Jannazo smile and forget about her pain for awhile and all it took from me was some time out of my daily schedule. Sometimes we get caught up in the “hustle and bustle” of our daily routines and we don’t realize that someone is laying in some hospital room just longing for someone to stop in and say “hello”. I wondered then if visiting elderly people and just spending time with them could make the difference between life or death for the people who had no family or friends to visit them. It made me remember back in 2010 when I went to visit my Uncle Joe in the hospital in New York when he was dying of cancer. When my mom, brother and I walked in his hospital room and he saw us the nurse said she had never seen him smile so big. We visited with him the whole week and the nurse said he looked better than he had in months. I learned more about him in that short week in the hospital then I had ever known previously. He shared stories about his younger days from the time he worked for the United Press as a photographer and how he got to be in the locker room with the New York Yankees and the time he almost drowned in a swimming pool when we was a young boy. Unfortunately a week after we left to come back to Florida he passed away. The nurse said he died peacefully and I wonder now if it was peacefully because we came and spent time with him just talking and laughing about old times. I realized then the next time I visited Ms Jannazo I would make an effort to try and look into each room and just see if there was any patient who just wanted to talk about their day. I challenge each of you who may read this story to make a concentrated effort to give just 1 day a month and visit your local rehabilitative center, an elderly home or maybe a veterans hospital and just spend a couple of hours walking into a few rooms and get to know some of these people who have great stories to tell and wisdom to share. And in these days of hard times, maybe just take the time to talk to a stranger sitting on a bench or standing on a corner. You talking to them just might make the difference of whether that someone has reason to believe in themselves and lives another day!