A most appropriate place for a final act of kindness

It was some 40 years ago in a very quiet country called New Zealand when this unforgettable final act of kindness took place. I was then a young 20-year old university student studying in this faraway country. The incident took place in the most "inappropriate" place for a young foreign student; in a hospital. However, to think back, the hospital was one of the most appropriate places for a final act of kindness.

This hospital was a bit special as it catered for "longer-term" patients. As days passed by, the patients naturally developed a friendly bond towards one another. There were only a few wards in this special hospital. And each ward housed 8 patients. The ward was very spacious, and eight was not a crowd. Having the evening meal was always a social event. All eight of us would gather around and that was fun. We were a privileged lot. The food was special, unlike those bland hospital "grub." You see, our required diet was supposed to keep us strong and healthy. So we had the finest of cuisines!

As you know, "lifestyle" in a hospital was nothing to shout about. Early to bed and early to rise. Each day looking forward to a better or rather, healthier tomorrow. Evening was a very quiet affair. The washroom was across the corridor. Did my wash up before retiring. The usual routine.

Act of kindness

A most profound final act of kindness

On the way out I chanced on a figure "struggling" to get up from the toilet seat.

"Are you ok? Let me help you."

I helped him up and he seemed to be all right after that. He was quite elderly. We went to our beds for the night. His bed was just next to me; on my left. Nothing unusual. He seemed to be breathing quite loudly. It went on for a few minutes. Then silence.

The nurse came for her routine check on all of us, making sure we were comfortable, and to say "good night" to each of us. Come to think of it, I now realized that her duty was to ensure that each of us was still alive! She called him a few times; I could sense no response, all still. Then she suddenly pulled the curtains separating me, and walked out briskly. I was a young naive student, but I could sense something was not right.

The nurse returned with the Matron. This time no more niceties and no "good night" to all of us. They headed straight to my neighbor's bed, and after a few call of his name, the bed began to move...Matron and nurse pushed the bed out of our room.

May our friend rest in eternal peace.

A simple gesture, an unforgettable act of kindness, went a long way. Forty years have passed by, but this simple final act of kindness lingers in my mind. May I be fortunate like our friend to go like he did, when my time comes!