Not one, not two, but three times! That’s how many attempts I made to interview a sweet little hospice patient for the life journal her family wanted written about their mother. The first time we met, I introduced myself and told her I wanted to ask her some questions so I could write a story about her life. She wasn’t exactly rude when she turned away from me, but she made it pretty clear that whatever she was focused on outside her nursing home window was exceedingly more important than I was!
I reported back to her family that my visit had not been productive. They assured me they would talk to her. They would remind her this was something they really wanted her to do.
On my second visit, I again introduced myself and asked if we could talk. “But I don’t know you”, she declared, “why would I want to talk to you?”
Third time’s a charm, right? Wrong! I even asked her daughter to be there too, thinking her mother would be more apt to talk if she wasn’t alone with a stranger, but it was just not going to happen!
After the third rejection, I asked the hospice nurse who visited her each day if she would casually ask some questions about her life and report back to me. Over the next month or so, the nurse gathered stories from her and I collected information and pictures from her family. I was able to write a nice narrative about her journey through life.
Several weeks after the hospice nurse delivered the completed journal to her, I received the most delightful note:
“Dear Hospice Volunteer,
Thank you for writing my stories and making my book.
I will cherish it always. I read it over and over.”
I was told that for weeks after she received it, she carried the journal around with her and showed it to anyone willing to give her a moment of their time. She expressed a desire to meet “the lady who wrote my book”.
So, I made an appointment to “meet” her. Although it was my fourth time there, she did not remember me. “I don’t know you”, she said…again! I pointed to the journal she had proudly displayed on top of her dresser. “But I know you”, I told her. “I’m the one who wrote your book!” She looked at the journal, then looked back at me and graced me with a smile I’ll never forget! “Oh, thank you, Dear! Thank you!” she exclaimed. Her voice and posture were tired and weary, but her eyes and her smile were forever young!
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