Battling illness should not be a prison sentence

The other day I witnessed first-hand a wonderful site. There, amongst a crowded retail store, was a woman pushing a shopping cart.

At first glance, the 60 something year old appeared to be like any other woman her age, though certainly walking more with the pace of a turtle than a rabbit.

But soon it became evident that this woman was not like her counterparts – suffering from the debilitations of Alzheimer’s disease. And yet there she was, proudly pushing her shopping cart accompanied by her daughter – who obviously did not allow her disease to devalue their relationship.

But perhaps what struck me most was what happened next.

A geriatric nurse, who happened to be shopping in the same retail store, also took notice of the site I was witnessing and was somewhat awestruck. She stopped the pair and said, “I work with a lot of patients like her and I think it’s beautiful that you’re taking her out. Just beautiful.”

That dialogue truly inspired me for the rest of the day.

While I understand that every illness poses its own unique circumstances, I fully believe that being “sick” does not have to be a prison sentence.

Society has concluded that those who are elderly and battling illness are better off confined to their homes, or locked away in a nursing facilities, which often signifies the end of their viable life.

But if we could learn to set aside our own inconveniences we’d discover how invaluable it is (for everyone involved) to be reminded of the world going on around us. To see different places and faces, which remind us of how important freedom and independence can be in life.

All is takes is a willing tour guide to go for a walk on a beautiful summer’s day; to pack a picnic lunch and find a picturesque landscape to enjoy it by; to bring them to a retail store to remind them how normal your relationship still is with that special someone.

John Joseph Powell once said, “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”

For those stewards in the world, who have a firm understanding of how powerful kindness can be, I hope they can see their worth in the lives they touch unconditionally.